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Monday, October 16, 2006
Established stars need to shine - Benitez

Rafael Benitez has pinpointed Liverpool's disappointing start to the season on his leading players' failure to find top form.

Liverpool are currently 10th in the Premier League and Benitez believes it is the established stars who need to up their game - rather than the new recruits needing to bed in.

The Reds were fortunate to avoid defeat at home to Blackburn at the weekend - Craig Bellamy's late header enabled them to snatch a point - and they travel to France tomorrow to face Bordeaux in the Champions League on Wednesday.

Benitez said: 'It's clear some of our more established players need to be at the top of their game.

'If you look at our formation for the game, we had the same back four, with Xabi [Alonso] in front of the defence, that has done so well for us last season.

'We had the same players there but we need to get the balance right when we are attacking because, like the Galatasaray game, we were vulnerable to counter-attacks.

'Saturday was disappointing again but for 30 minutes of the second half we played much better football, we attacked well and the crowd was really behind us.

'The problem is we are only playing like this for 30 minutes now when we know we must do this for 90.

'I said I thought it would be November before we were at our best because of a number of reasons.'

Liverpool have injury concerns over Mohamed Sissoko, Dirk Kuyt, Daniel Agger and Robbie Fowler.

Benitez added: 'I'm more optimistic Kuyt, Agger and Fowler will be fit, but they're still doubtful at this stage. Momo is the biggest worry of all because he's still having treatment on his ankle.'

The Liverpool boss also spelled out his confidence that his side could turn the corner.

'There were positives from the weekend. It was good for Craig to score and at times we played better,' he told the Liverpool Echo.

'It's been difficult, but we will improve. I have confidence because we know we have good players who will start to play better.

'Maybe we will have to be more patient. It will take time, but I'm sure we will do it.'




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