Liverpool's Gerrard ready to risk Rafa wrath

Steven Gerrard has risked angering Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez by declaring himself fit for England's Euro2008 qualifier tomorrow against Israel.

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Gerrard, who has not played a competitive match since Liverpool's 1-1 draw against Chelsea on August 19, is determined to represent his country in the biggest match of Steve McClaren's reign.

He also believes that, provided there is no reaction, he will be available to face Guus Hiddink's Russia in the second of the head-to-head qualifiers four days later.

Benitez warned Gerrard not to risk aggravating the injury before the midfielder joined up with the England squad but, barring a problem in today's final training session, the Liverpool playmaker will line up alongside Owen Hargreaves in the centre of midfield.

Hargreaves is making good progress from a thigh strain, and McClaren expects the Manchester United man also to declare himself fit after today's training session at London Colney.

McClaren said: "As a precaution, Owen was sent for a scan. Thankfully, it revealed only a small problem and we are hoping it will clear. The thigh problem is not related to the tendinitis he had in his knee."

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