Striker struggling at Anfield

Benitez says Keane will play part this season

January 27, 2009
By Rafa Benitez

Rafa Benitez has signalled that Robbie Keane is part of his plans but stopped short of saying that he has a long-term future at Anfield.

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Keane returns to the squad at Wigan yet his Liverpool future is uncertain as the £20million Irish striker has been the subject of transfer speculation ever since boss Rafael Benitez left him out of the 18-man squad for Sunday's FA Cup fourth-round draw with Everton.

Tottenham, Manchester City, Newcastle and even Everton have been linked with a striker who has struggled to hold down a first-team place since moving from Spurs last summer.

But with the transfer window closing next Monday and Benitez not interested in any player-plus-cash offer from Spurs - which would take into account the money the Merseysiders still owe for the player - Keane looks certain to stay at the club until the end of the season. After that his future is far less clear.

Benitez said: "Everyone is now important for us. We have a lot of games to play in the coming weeks, in the league, cup and Europe.

"We will need everyone. People may not always play but two weeks later we may have an injury and then we need them.

"Everyone, including Robbie, is training well. He has experience and hopefully he will be an important player for us.

"People are talking too much about Keane. It was just one decision about one player, he wasn't in the squad," Benitez said.

"He had a day off on Sunday like the rest of the players who were not involved in the game. He trained on Monday, he trained today and he will be in the squad at Wigan.

"It is nothing to do with whether he talked to me about the situation. Every player has trained very hard this week, as has Robbie, and he will be in the squad.

"He is expensive and high profile, yes. But Manchester United have bought plenty of players who cost £20m or more every single year. Sometimes more than one player. But nothing is said about them being left out.

"If you want to be in a top side then you must have this mentality. You have to accept that some players will play and some will not."

Benitez added: "Robbie is a good player, we knew that when we signed him. Maybe he is not playing at his best level, but he wants to fight for his position.

"And I will be very pleased if Robbie can score goals. There has been no row, he is just one more player in the squad. Nothing else is happening, we are just thinking of using him at Wigan."