Benitez is desperate to have Gerrard in his line-up for tonight's Champions League crunch against Real Madrid.
But there are serious fears in the camp the England ace is not right after a hamstring strain which has kept him out for three weeks.
And with so much at stake, Benitez will give Gerrard, 28, as long as possible although, last night, all the signs are that he will start on the subs' bench and be used only in an emergency.
Gerrard has done only light training so far but Benitez knows he is the one man who genuinely scares Real.
The Spaniard said: "We're not trying to hide anything but we will have to talk to the player and the doctor. If they say it's a risk we will have to see.
"It depends on the player but he is mature and knows if he's ready or not."