Reds confirm Mascherano ban

Liverpool have confirmed Javier Mascherano will serve a four-match

ban after his sending off at Fratton Park during the Reds’ 2-0

defeat.

The Argentina captain was shown a straight red card by

referee Lee Mason and now faces his second suspension of the

season.

Mascherano will miss the forthcoming fixtures against Wolves,

Aston Villa, the FA Cup third round tie at Reading and the league

clash with Tottenham on January 10.

However, his participation in at least some of those games

would have been in doubt anyway as he had to be helped off the

field having been shown the red card and is believed to have

sustained medial knee ligament damage.

The absence of the Argentinian, who was just starting to

rediscover his form, will be a huge blow to Benitez.

It leaves the Liverpool boss having to decide whether to drop

Steven Gerrard back from his attacking role just behind Fernando

Torres or play £20million summer signing Alberto Aquilani, who

he has been holding back because of ongoing concerns about his

fitness.