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Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez has pleaded with his England counterpart Steve McClaren not to play midfielder Steven Gerrard for two crucial Euro 2008 qualifiers, unless he is fully fit.

England meet Israel and Russia at Wembley on September 8 and 12 respectively but Gerrard, who is recovering from a broken toe, remains an injury doubt.

The Liverpool skipper assured McClaren he will be fit for the Euro 2008 encounters, but Benitez is not convinced of fielding a player who may not be fully fit.

“We have not taken any risks with Steven at Liverpool and I would not expect England to take any risks with him,” said Benitez.

“We do not want Steven to play for England with any painkilling injections. We did that against Chelsea and it took four to five days for him to recover to be able to train again.”

Gerrard’s value is even more acute given the absence through injury of Frank Lampard.

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