Gerrard - Bring on the best

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Gerrard: no fear factor

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Steven Gerrard has declared that Liverpool fear no-one ahead of the UEFA Champions League draw and has issued a 'bring-it-on' cry to the other English teams in the draw.

Since winning Europe's top honour in 2005, the Reds have been pitted against English opposition on numerous occasions, including semi-finals against Chelsea and last season's quarter-final win over Arsenal.

And with the London duo, along with Manchester United, also through to the last eight of the competition the chances are high of another all English-showdown when Friday's draw is made.

With Liverpool currently the top-ranked team in Europe, plus having the best record in the domestic top four head-to-heads, the Kop skipper sees no reason to be afraid of anyone left in the tournament.

Gerrard said: "We are not running scared of anybody. We will take who we get, and believe that we are going to go through.

No fear

"If you are asking me about a fear factor in the Champions League, then I think it is the other seven teams in the draw who are going to have concerns about coming up against us after that Real Madrid result.

"The way I look at it, we are going to have to play them sooner or later, so it does not matter if it is now, the semi-finals or the final."

Liverpool thrashed the Spanish champions 4-0 in their last European tie and added a 4-1 mauling of Manchester United at the weekend for good measure to underline their current fine form.

Gerrard told the Liverpool FC magazine: "We are now looking forward to the draw later this week. If you could hand-pick an opponent then maybe we would want someone like Villarreal or Porto, but there are no easy draws at this stage.

"Everyone who has got to this stage of the competition has done well. They will all believe in themselves.

Force

"But we have shown - the players, the manager and the fans - that we are a force to be reckoned with when we pull it all together.

"So we will sit down on Friday and see who we get and take it from there."

Meanwhile, boss Rafa Benitez has been boosted by the return of defender Daniel Agger to full training following a back problem that has sidelined the Dane for more than a month.

And Liverpool could have injured pair Yossi Benayoun and Xabi Alonso back for Sunday's visit of Aston Villa to Anfield.

Benayoun and Alonso missed last weekend's rout of Manchester United with hamstring and calf strains respectively, but both are responding well to treatment.

But full-back Alvaro Arbeloa, who suffered a recurrence of a recent hamstring injury during the warm-up at Old Trafford, will not be rushed back into action so the right-back role may be reluctantly taken up by Jamie Carragher.