Gerrard blow for Liverpool

Liverpool will be without injured captain Steven Gerrard for Thursday’s Europa League round-of-16 first-leg clash with Braga in Portugal.

Gerrard, 30, has suffered a recurrence of his groin problem and will not travel with the rest of the squad.

Gerrard missed both legs of the round-of-32 clash with Sparta Prague and the 1-1 English Premier League draw with Wigan last month after initially suffering the injury in Liverpool’s 1-0 win over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on February 6.

Although he returned for Liverpool’s 3-1 loss to West Ham on February 27 and then the 3-1 win over Manchester United at Anfield on Sunday, it now appears as though the England midfielder has been struck down again.

Gerrard joins the injured Fabio Aurelio, Martin Kelly and Daniel Agger on the sidelines. But, in better news for boss Kenny Dalglish, 35 million-pound striker Andy Carroll looks set to make his European debut for the Reds after coming on as a substitute against United.

Carroll is over a groin problem of his own and Liverpool club doctor Peter Brukner said the former Newcastle forward will be eased steadily back into action.

“It’s been a long process rehabilitating him – about eight or nine weeks – but we are happy with the result,” Brukner said.

“We’ve seen steady improvement over that time; he’s much stronger in that tendon and in general as well.”

“We still need to keep working with him and we want to build his training and playing load up to the level required. He’ll play some more minutes against Braga and hopefully he’ll be involved more and more with each game. Overall, we are really happy with his progress.”