Gerrard bullish as Reds face last chance
Liverpool set out for a must-win Champions League clash with Debrecen without injured striker Fernando Torres but with captain Steven Gerrard insisting they can still turn their season around.
A run of one win in ten matches has left the Reds floundering in the Premier League and on the brink of going out of the Champions League.
To survive among Europe’s elite, Rafael Benitez’s side must beat Hungarian champions Debrecen in Budapest on Tuesday and hope that Fiorentina fail to beat Lyon in Italy.
That looks a long shot but Gerrard insists that he and his squad can still salvage something from a season that started with high hopes of a sustained challenge for Liverpool’s first league title since 1990.
“The mood in the camp is really good, although we know our position in the table isn’t good enough,” Gerrard said.
“But we have faith in our ability. We know we can put things right.”
He added: “It’s been a frustrating few weeks because as soon as I was fit we had the international break. I’ve been desperate to play and can’t wait to really get going properly again.”
Gerrard started his first game in a month on Saturday when Liverpool drew 2-2 at home to Manchester City and he is expected to start again in the Hungarian capital, possibly with the help of a pain-killing injection.
Torres has been ruled out again by Benitez who admits the striker, who is battling a groin injury, is also doubtful for Sunday’s Merseyside derby at Everton.
“We thought it would be two or three weeks and he’s only 12 or 13 days into that so there’s no point in him going,” Benitez told Liverpool’s website, http://www.liverpoolfc.tv.
“The next few days will decide if he is fit for Everton, but at this moment there are no guarantees.”
Benitez admitted it was frustrating for Liverpool to have lost control of their own destiny. “A lot depends on Fiorentina and Lyon, but the main thing for us is to concentrate on our game and see what happens,” the Spaniard said.
“We have to prepare our game because we don’t have any influence over the other one. If we can do our job and win, we’ll see.
“I think we can do it. We have some players coming back from injury, so hopefully with a bit of luck we can progress.
“It’s football, so you never know. We’ll see if we can keep going in the Champions League.”
Dutch forward Ryan Babel, who injured his ankle in Saturday’s 2-2 draw with Manchester City, and Spanish winger Albert Riera (hamstring) were both left out of the 18-man Liverpool squad that flew to Budapest, but England defender Glen Johnson travelled after missing the City match with a calf problem.
Danish defender Daniel Agger was also cleared to play after recovering from a head injury that forced him out of the City match.