Gerrard denies affray charge over bar brawl

England and Liverpool midfielder Steven Gerrard on Friday denied taking part in a bar brawl last year that led to a businessman being injured.

The Liverpool captain was arrested in the early hours of December 29 after police were called to the Lounge Bar nightclub in Southport, north of Liverpool in northwest England.

Company director Marcus McGee, 34, required hospital treatment after receiving facial injuries.

At Liverpool Crown Court on Friday, Gerrard, 28, pleaded not guilty to a charge of affray in relation to the incident and was granted bail, the Press Association reported.

He was in court with six other men who face the same charge over the incident which occurred following Gerrard's man-of-the-match performance in a 5-1 win over Newcastle United at St James' Park in which he had scored twice.

Judge Henry Globe told the men the trial would begin on July 20, after checking with lawyers he could preside over the case despite an interest in soccer.

"I am not a season ticket holder, nor regular attender at Anfield, but it would be right to say I have been a visitor at Anfield as a guest on occasions," he said.

"I have a general interest in football and (have) watched many football matches, though not live, with many different clubs not just Liverpool."

Gerrard signed a two-year contract extension on Friday that will keep him at Anfield until at least 2013, and Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez has said the club are fully behind their captain.

Liverpool are second in the Premier League, a point behind Manchester United and would go top on Saturday if they avoid defeat at Fulham, at least until Manchester United host Aston Villa on Sunday.

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