LIVERPOOL, England (AFP) - Rafael Benitez will keep faith with Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard despite his arrest in connection with a bar-room brawl earlier this week.
The Liverpool and England midfielder was arrested on Sunday, after scoring two goals in the Premier League leaders' 5-1 win away to Newcastle, and charged with assault 24 hours later by police following his involvement in the incident at the Lounge Inn in Southport, near Liverpool.
A question mark now hangs over Gerrard's immediate future ahead of Liverpool's FA Cup third round tie on Saturday away to fellow north-west side Preston North End, pushing for promotion to the Premier League.
But Benitez has held clear-the-air talks with his star player and assured Gerrard he will be selected for the game if convinced he is in the right frame of mind to play.
It is understood Gerrard has informed the Liverpool manager he wants to play and that leaving him out of the team would only heighten speculation about his Anfield future.
Preston defender Callum Davidson insists Gerrard's problems will have no bearing on Liverpool when it comes to the game.
"People are saying this could be a good time to play Liverpool, but I don't think it will be a distraction," he said.
"I can recall the time when I was playing for Leicester and the club went into administration.
"Despite the financial implications that carries, we did not let it interfere with how we played. I know the circumstances are different but once players run on to the field their professionalism always takes over.
"And Liverpool have some of the best professionals in the game."
On a more positive note for Benitez, he could be in a position to welcome back leading striker Fernando Torres from a hamstring injury.
Albert Riera believes the leaders will be an even more formidable prospect once Torres returns to action.
Riera cannot wait to see his compatriot back in Liverpool's first team and he said: "All wingers, in fact all players, would want to play with Fernando because he is such a good player.
"He's so important for our team - scoring 33 goals last season. It's not easy to score that many goals at this level.
"It will be great news for us when he's fit again and I'm sure we'll play a lot of times together and form a good understanding."
|Janssen vows to fight for Tottenham place|
|Atletico should give Torres contract for life - Saul|
|Who has the strongest line up – Real Madrid or Juventus? We rate the title holders and the Italian c|
|Roma part ways with Spalletti|
|Pjanic out to expose Real Madrid weaknesses|
|Strootman: Totti could play for another five years|
|Saul: United target Griezmann important but no one is above Atletico|
|Strootman always knew he would extend Roma contract|
|Iniesta refuses to commit to Barcelona|
|Higuain: I have affection for Real Madrid rival Ramos|
|AFC Champions League Review: Al Ain hit six against Esteghlal as Al-Ahli defeat Al-Ahli|
|Eintracht Braunschweig 0 Wolfsburg 1 (0-2 agg): Vieirinha seals Bundesliga survival|
|Buffon deserves Ballon d´Or for current form, not past achievements - Chiellini|
|I hope he calls it a day - Adams urges Wenger not to spoil Arsenal reign|
|Allegri not worried by Juve final record|
|Another promotion campaign daunting for defeated Stam|
|The pundits wrote us off - Wagner hails Huddersfield´s fairytale promotion to Premier League|
|The night Valverde embarrassed Barcelona|
|Managing egos, sorting the defence and playing the Barca way - Valverde´s Camp Nou challenges|
|Valverde named new Barcelona boss|
|Huddersfield Town 0 Reading 0 (aet, 4-3 pens): Ward the hero as Wagner´s men go up|
|Chiellini: Juve better than 2015 Champions League final loss|
|Strootman signs new five-year Roma deal|
|Pellegrino leaves Alaves after Copa final defeat|
|Bye for now - Hart departs Torino after loan spell|
|BREAKING NEWS: Ter Stegen agrees Barcelona renewal until 2022|
|Bartra feared for his career after Dortmund bus attack|
|Dortmund confirm knee ligament damage for Reus|
|Calm down - Mendy cools talk of City move with Paris video|
|AC Milan losing patience over Donnarumma|
|Terry eyes Wembley return as a manager|
|Coman pondered Bayern exit|
|Four fans die after stampede ahead of Honduran final|
|Mijatovic magic, Zidane heartache - Real Madrid and Juventus´ 1998 Champions League final|
|Moses is not a cheat - Conte|
|MLS Review: Atlanta too good for New York City, Dallas draw|
|Totti could´ve played for any big club – Ramos hails Roma great|
|Wenger: FA Cup win my presentation for new deal|
|I´m crazy about returning to Spain – Nolito eyes City exit|
|Roma defender Emerson suffers anterior cruciate ligament injury|
|Zenit sack Lucescu after missing out on Champions League|
|This was probably my last game for Benfica - Ederson hints at Man City move|
|Empoli relegated as Crotone beat Lazio to secure Serie A survival|
|Lorient 0 Troyes 0 (1-2 agg): Goalless draw sees visitors promoted to Ligue 1|
|Dzeko´s 29 goals claim Serie A Capocannoniere|
|Inter 5 Udinese 2: Perisic stars in crushing victory|
|Ausilio confirms Manchester United interest in Perisic|
|Totti: I´m not ready to say it´s over|
|Totti is not normal - De Rossi emotional after Roma icon´s farewell|
|Twenty-five seasons, 307 goals, one incredible legacy – the numbers behind Totti´s remarkable career|
|Sampdoria 2 Napoli 4: Comprehensive win not enough to snatch second place|
|Roma 3 Genoa 2: Perotti seals Champions League berth in dream farewell for Totti|
|Leave him alone! - Montella shrugs off Donnarumma error|
|I didn´t want to leave Real Madrid - Ronaldo|
|The offside rule is crazy - Cahill hits out at Sanchez FA Cup goal|
|I think Rooney wants to leave Manchester United, says Robson|
|Cagliari 2 AC Milan 1: Pisacane late show seals fitting Stadio Sant´Elia farewell|
|Inter announce Palacio departure|
|Courtois ready to sign new Chelsea contract|
|Everyone wrote me off - Critics inspired Mertesacker before Arsenal triumph|
|Emery never feared the sack at PSG|
|Barcelona future not in my hands – Paco Alcacer|
|Varane wants to see Mbappe alongside history-maker Ronaldo|
|Iniesta: I needed Busquets´ help to lift the Copa del Rey trophy!|
|Man United capable of anything - Lingard eyes glory next season|
|Freiburg´s Grifo signs Borussia Monchengladbach deal|
|Verratti expects to be at PSG next season amid Barcelona rumours|
|Coquelin: FA Cup win was for Wenger and we want him to stay|
|Ibrahimovic wanted by ´many clubs´, but he´ll stay in Europe - Raiola|
|Matuidi unsure about PSG future amid Man United links|
|Al-Khelaifi certain Emery will stay at PSG|
|MLS Review: Galaxy win Clasico, Sporting KC beaten|
|He will be at the Wanda Metropolitano – Atletico hint at Griezmann stay|
|Mexico 1 Croatia 2: Hernandez breaks record in surprise loss|
|Mexico 1 Croatia 2: Hernandez breaks record in surprise loss|
|Luis Enrique hails ´extraterrestrial´ Messi|
|Every player wants to play more – Fabregas cagey on Chelsea future after final omission|
|Tuchel hopes to continue as Borussia Dortmund boss|
|Kompany adamant Stones ´has everything´|
|People talk too much about China - Costa would only leave Chelsea for Atletico|
|Conte clear-headed for close season after Chelsea´s Wembley woe|