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This story has been reproduced from today's media. It does not necessarily represent the position of Liverpool Football Club.
Rafa Benitez today challenged Yossi Benayoun to inspire Liverpool's return to winning ways – as he prepared Alberto Aquilani for his Anfield debut.
Benayoun has been in terrific form during 2009 and with Steven Gerrard unlikely to be involved against Birmingham City this evening, the Israeli will have a key role to play. His through ball to Fernando Torres set the Reds on their way against Manchester United and Benayoun also scored a hat-trick against Burnley at Anfield earlier this season. Now Benitez wants to see more of the same from Benayoun, as Liverpool aim to go into the latest international break on a high. "Yossi is a key player for us," said Benitez. "There was a time before when people had some doubts about him but we knew he always had quality. "We knew he could have an influence and change a game. He is intelligent and players don't know what he is going to do the next time he gets the ball. "That's a big difference and when you don't have Steven on the pitch, it's important we have Yossi and we hope he will keep doing that in this game." With Liverpool's injury list improving, Benitez - who will be without the suspended Jamie Carragher - should be able to name a team not too far from his strongest line-up. The bench will also include summer signing Aquilani, who is ready to get some game time after recovering from a virus. "When we played against Lyon, we were controlling the game and both Lucas and (Javier) Mascherano were doing a very good job," said Benitez. "That's why we kept waiting and waiting and when we scored, we felt it was best to leave things as they were in midfield. "We didn't want to change the shape. "But now he has had a couple more days to recover from the virus he had; hopefully it will be better again, as he has been doing really well in training." Aquilani showed flashes of quality in his sole cameo appearance to date at Arsenal two weeks ago and Benitez is adamant the Italian midfielder has the quality to excite. But given he hasn't started a competitive match since March, the manager knows it is going to take time to show his full potential "Match fitness is Albert's problem at the minute," said Benitez. "The only way to change that, of course, is by playing games."
This story has been reproduced from today's media. It does not necessarily represent the views or position of Liverpool Football Club.
Author: Liverpool Echo Tagged:
, rafa benitez
, yossi benayoun
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