Monday, August 13, 2007

Benitez impressed with his strikers

Rafael Benitez has earned himself a reputation of being unable to resist rotating his squad at Liverpool but he may finally have found his ideal striking partnership ahead of Wednesday's Champions League qualifier against Toulouse. Despite neither Dutch international Dirk Kuyt nor 26mn pounds Spanish record signing Fernando Torres scoring in the 2-1 victory over Aston Villa on Saturday, as Liverpool won their first game of the season for the first time since 2002, Benitez is ready to give the pair a second chance in the first leg in France. Benitez has been hugely impressed by the way Torres and Kuyt have formed an instant understanding in the short space of time since the Spanish striker arrived from Atletico Madrid and he is keen for them to develop that partnership further. "I am very happy with both of them. They have got together very well and they look a threat. Their movement and understanding is very good and it will get better if we encourage it," said Benitez. "I was very pleased with the way Fernando played his first game in the Premiership at Aston Villa. He showed good class and was impressive at times. "Normally players take time to settle in but he seems to have adapted very well. There are one or two things that he can work on, but he will be okay." England international Peter Crouch, Argentine midfielder Javier Mascherano and Israeli international Yossi Benayoun were all left out of the travelling squad for the trip to Birmingham but the trio could all be included in the party for the away leg in Toulouse. "They were not injured. We have a big squad and I decided to leave them behind, but there will be chances for everyone this season because we could have to play more than 60 games and we need everyone," added Benitez. "It is important for us to have a deep squad and for players to be ready to rotate in and out of the side. There will be changes a lot of the time to keep people fresh and in good condition. That is up to me." Benitez remains confident that he will be able to sign Manchester United defender Gabriel Henize before the transfer deadline at the end of August. There is a meeting scheduled for August 20 to settle the legal wrangle over the 29-year-old and Benitez added: "I am still very confident, but I need to wait until the meeting." Benitez has hinted that he might not be willing to take part in such a hectic pre-season build up next season, despite starting the season with a win. The Asia Cup in Hong Kong and the Rotterdam tournament has seen Liverpool dashing all over the world in the last six weeks. "If it is organised properly and good for the club then we would take part in the Asia tournament again but I would prefer to do pre-season in Europe. That would be my preference. We had too many commitments this summer." Aston Villa manager Martin O'Neill will this week redouble his efforts to sign West Bromwich Albion defender Curtis Davies, after having had a sevenmn pounds offer for the England under-21 international rejected. "I know that we need to be stronger in the squad and have more depth and we will be doing all we can to strengthen this week. That is our priority," said O'Neill. (AFP)

No comments: