Rafa hopeful over Gerrard

Skipper winning fitness battle to face Blues

Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez is optimistic Steven Gerrard will be fit to feature in Tuesday's UEFA Champions League semi-final clash with Chelsea.

Gerrard was forced to miss Saturday's 2-0 win at Fulham after injuring his neck in training and Benitez admitted after the game at Craven Cottage that the midfielder was a doubt for Tuesday's first leg at Anfield.

The England international took part in training on Sunday and Benitez is hopeful his talisman will be able to play and he will give him until the last minute to prove his fitness.

"With the neck, you never know," Benitez told the club's official website. "The neck is always dangerous so you need to wait.

"I think he was a little bit better on Saturday. We'll wait. We had similar problems with Reina and Finnan and they needed time. So we will see.

"The other day, he wanted to play but he was only able to look to the right, so I told him he could play as a left winger! We'll see if he can turn his head round and look the other way now.

"We will talk together, with the doctor. The player will say he wants to play, but there's an easy way of finding out whether he's fit.

"I will come up and tap him on the left shoulder and if he turns to face me without any pain, we will know he can play."