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England key Gerrard has West Ham in his sights

Written by: Staff

LIVERPOOL, England, May 13 (Reuters) Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard says all thoughts of next month's World Cup will be pushed out of his mind until after today's FA Cup final against West Ham United.

''I would not be doing my job if I was thinking about the World Cup,'' said the 25-year-old midfielder, who will be a key figure for England in Germany.

''I will give this weekend 100 per cent and then I can turn to what I hope will be an exciting summer.

''If we give a good result there it will get me in the right frame of mind for the World Cup.'' Liverpool will start as favourites to beat West Ham at Cardiff's Millenium Stadium, where Gerrard will captain his side in the FA Cup final for the first time.

He already had one winners' medal to his name, having been in the side that beat Arsenal 2-1 in the 2001 final.

''It will be a special moment. I have always dreamed of playing in cup finals but I will be captain this time, and that makes it very special to me,'' said Gerrard.

''I have won the Cup in Cardiff before, but this will be my first time as skipper and we need to do the job properly.

''It is good to finish the season off with a final. We have done well in the league and to finish as strongly as we did is the most important thing.

''But to have gone on a big cup run has been great. I would not say it is as big as the Champions League but it pushes it pretty close. It is an important trophy and we need to deliver.'' Liverpool have beaten West Ham, who have won the FA Cup three times in their history, twice in the Premier League already this season on the way to finishing third.

However, the London club have had an impressive first season back in the top-flight, finishing ninth in the table.

Gerrard is taking nothing for granted as Liverpool prepare for their 62nd game of a season which started with a Champions League qualifying tie last July.

''We have got to match West Ham for effort and then hopefully our ability will take over,'' Gerrard said.

''There is no way that any team under (coach) Rafa Benitez will go into a final and underestimate West Ham. We will show them a lot of respect but we need to match them.

''We have beaten fantastic sides like Manchester United and Chelsea to get to the final, but it is always on your mind that after going on such a successful run you might not get over that last hurdle.

''West Ham are in the way and they have some fantastic players who will play the game of their lives. So we have got to be on our toes and play to the level we know we can.

''It would cap a great season if we could win the FA Cup.'' REUTERS AY ND1050

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