‘˜Gerrard focussed on football’

Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez has publicly expressed his support of Steven Gerrard, after the Reds skipper was charged with assault and affray after an incident in a Southport nightclub last Sunday.

Just hours after Gerrard scored twice to help Liverpool to an emphatic 1-5 victory over Newcastle at St James’ Park, the England international was arrested following a fight in the Lounge Inn club.

Benitez says he has spoken to Gerrard, who has been in training all week, and is fully focussed on the football. It’s business as usual, says Rafa: “I sat down with him and had a very good talk about the situation. We’ll do whatever we can to support Steven in the weeks ahead.”

“Steven explained to me what had happened and I told him he has my full support and backing, along with everyone else at the football club.

“He’s trained with the other lads after a couple of days off for the squad and is keen now to focus solely on his football. He is our captain and a key player for us.

“We’ve worked very hard to get into the position we’re in going through to the new year and all of us are determined to keep that progress going. We’re now concentrating on our preparation for the FA Cup game at Preston this weekend.”

Liverpool now face Preston North End in the third round of the FA Cup this Saturday. Kick-off is 5.30pm.