Gerrard sidelined for rest of season

LONDON - Liverpool's hopes of securing European football have been dealt a blow after captain Steven Gerrard was ruled out for the rest of the season after suffering a recurrence of a groin injury, the club said on Friday.

The midfielder, who last played for the club in their 3-1 victory over Manchester United on March 6, underwent surgery last month but suffered a setback after returning to training last week.

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"We still don't know definitively what the problem is, so we will wait until we get a precise answer from the people he has been to see. But he will not be involved again this season," boss Kenny Dalglish told a news conference.

"Without being disrespectful to the players who are injured, the most important ones are the ones who are fit because they're the ones who can be chosen. At this particular moment in time, I'm as good a player as Steven."

Liverpool are in the middle of a mini injury crisis with Gerrard joining first choice defenders Daniel Agger, Glen Johnson and Martin Kelly on the sidelines.

Agger has been ruled out for the rest of the campaign with a knee tendon injury while Kelly and Johnson both have hamstring problems.

Gerrard had already missed six weeks of the season after tearing his hamstring playing for England against France in November.

His latest injury comes at a poor time for his club who have dragged themselves back into contention for a European place after an appalling start to the season.

After dropping into the relegation zone under former manager Roy Hodgson, they have enjoyed a revival under new boss Dalglish and are now sixth in the standings, five points behind Tottenham Hotspur in fifth - the only guaranteed Europa League berth.