Liverpool Boss Rafael Benitez Hopeful Over Javier Mascherano Fitness

Argentina captain available for Premier League business...

Javier Mascherano will be sidelined for Liverpool's Champions League trip to Fiorentina on Tuesday evening due to a hamstring problem, but Rafael Benitez has allayed fears that it will be a lengthy lay-off by implying that the player will be fit for the upcoming clash with Chelsea.
"He was shooting in training and felt something in his hamstring," Benitez explained to journalists at a pre-match press conference. "He went to see the doctor and we found he had a small problem in his hamstring."

When probed as to how long Mascherano will be unavailable, Benitez estimated: "It could be two or three days, but we are not sure."

The one-game absence does not worry the Spanish gaffer. "It is not a problem because I think we can manage with Stevie [Gerrard] or another player. To lose a player like Javier is not good. But we will find solutions, whether it is with Gerrard or someone else," he said.

Meanwhile, Benitez reacted to the kind words bestowed upon him by Fiorentina manager Cesare Prandelli. The Viola boss, who has been with the Artemio Franchi outfit since 2005, described Benitez - a Champions League winner with Liverpool - as a "role model".
Benitez was graceful in his reaction: "First of all, I'd like to say thank you to Mr Prandelli.

"He has done a very good job. I was watching some games and they have been doing very well. They are well organised and know what to do; how to attack and defend.
"They are in a good position now, but I think they can do better. To be in the Champions League is a big success for them and hopefully it will be the same this year."
Fiorentina qualified for the Champions League by finishing fourth in Serie A last season - a position they maintain this season, too, having won four and drawn one from six games. They are two points shy of surprise leaders Sampdoria.

Alan Dawson