GERRARD RULED OUT OF ROMA CLASH

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LIVERPOOL boss Gerard Houllier has been dealt a massive blow with the news that star midfielder Steven Gerrard is out for the tough Uefa Cup clash with Serie A leaders Roma on Thursday.

The influential ace is struggling with the groin injury sustained against Sunderland at the weekend and he is already doubtful for The Reds' FA Cup tie with Manchester City on Sunday.

The midfield engine room is going to be severely weakened for the tie in the Italian capital with Croatian midfielder Igor Biscan ineligible to play, having earlier turned out in Europe for former club Dinamo Zagreb before moving to Anfield.

"Steven is definitely out, and Igor Biscan is cup-tied after playing for Dinamo Zagreb in Europe earlier this season," said Houllier.

Star striker Emile Heskey is also a major doubt for the game, having picked up a nasty looking ankle injury at Sunderland.

Better news on the injury front for Houllier is the possible return of Czech midfielder Vladimir Smicer, who missed the 1-1 draw at the Stadium of Light with a twisted ankle.

The versatile Jamie Carragher could also make a return from injury, having missed the last two league games with a nagging knee problem, and he could regain his left back berth in place of the deputising Gregory Vignal.

Danny Murphy and Nick Barmby are also hoping to return from respective knee and ankle injuries, while influential defender Sami Hyypia is expected to recover from a knee injury picked up at Sunderland to lead the defence in the Stadio Olimpico. 

Houllier admitted that his side had been decimated by injuries recently but he was hopeful of most of them being available for Thursday's game.

"We've had 13 players in the treatment room, but we hope some of them will be okay by Thursday," said Houllier.