Rafa Benitez believes captaining England could help Steven Gerrard take his game to a new level.

The Liverpool skipper is set to be handed the armband by national team boss Fabio Capello for the 3rd March friendly against Egypt.

Chelsea defender John Terry was stripped of the responsibility earlier this month following allegations over his private life and replacement Rio Ferdinand is struggling with a back injury.

Vice-captain Gerrard will now assume the responsibility for the Wembley encounter and could be in the frame to lead his country at the World Cup with doubts continuing over Ferdinand’s fitness.

Anfield talisman Gerrard has been criticised in the past for not always transferring his club form onto the international stage, and Benitez believes being asked to lead the side could make a difference.

The Reds boss said: „I think captaining England will be good for his confidence and could also have a good effect on him.

„We know he is important for us, and also important for England. I think he has to take the responsibility as a positive sign.”

Benitez knows Gerrard will be a key man as Liverpool look to see off Unirea Urziceni in their Europa League last 32 clash in Romania, with the Premier League side holding a narrow 1-0 lead from the first leg.

He added: „Unirea are well organised and play counter-attack, but aren’t very offensive. But they have to take more risks now so maybe we will have more space.

Benitez defended Liverpool’s decision to fly in late ahead of the game, not train at the Steaua Stadium and depart immediately after, rejecting claims they were showing disrespect to their hosts.

„Sometimes it is easier for us to train at home because you can practice without problems and you have more time,” he said.

„After the time of the flight it was better to train normally in the morning and then fly here.

„If we had to fly and then come here to train you have to come early and may not train properly.

„As for after the game, if it goes to extra-time, the plane will wait, because it is a charter. Don’t make the mistake of thinking we are taking anything for granted.”

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Rafa backing Gerrard role

Rafa Benitez believes captaining England could help Steven Gerrard take his game to a new level.

The Liverpool skipper is set to be handed the armband by national team boss Fabio Capello for the 3rd March friendly against Egypt.

Chelsea defender John Terry was stripped of the responsibility earlier this month following allegations over his private life and replacement Rio Ferdinand is struggling with a back injury.

Vice-captain Gerrard will now assume the responsibility for the Wembley encounter and could be in the frame to lead his country at the World Cup with doubts continuing over Ferdinand’s fitness.

Anfield talisman Gerrard has been criticised in the past for not always transferring his club form onto the international stage, and Benitez believes being asked to lead the side could make a difference.

The Reds boss said: „I think captaining England will be good for his confidence and could also have a good effect on him.

„We know he is important for us, and also important for England. I think he has to take the responsibility as a positive sign.”

Benitez knows Gerrard will be a key man as Liverpool look to see off Unirea Urziceni in their Europa League last 32 clash in Romania, with the Premier League side holding a narrow 1-0 lead from the first leg.

He added: „Unirea are well organised and play counter-attack, but aren’t very offensive. But they have to take more risks now so maybe we will have more space.

Benitez defended Liverpool’s decision to fly in late ahead of the game, not train at the Steaua Stadium and depart immediately after, rejecting claims they were showing disrespect to their hosts.

„Sometimes it is easier for us to train at home because you can practice without problems and you have more time,” he said.

„After the time of the flight it was better to train normally in the morning and then fly here.

„If we had to fly and then come here to train you have to come early and may not train properly.

„As for after the game, if it goes to extra-time, the plane will wait, because it is a charter. Don’t make the mistake of thinking we are taking anything for granted.”

Browse our countdowns of famous moments and players from tournaments gone by…

Get Sky + starter from as little as �.50 a month with free broadband and calls.

Read the article on Sky Sports

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