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Monday, January 5, 2009
Rafa warns Reds to quell Cup derby fever

Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez has warned Liverpool must contain their anticipation over the Merseyside derby FA Cup tie which is sure to be the talk of their city all month - because there are important matches to be won in the meantime for his table-toppers.

Liverpool and Everton will clash twice in a week, in the Premier League on January 19 and then in the fourth round of the cup the following weekend.

With both games at Anfield, Benitez knows a crucial stage beckons in Liverpool's quest for both the league title and Cup.

He told Liverpoolfc.tv: "It is a draw which will excite everyone in the city, because everyone knows about the great rivalry that exists between the two clubs.

"But we must remember that we have some big games coming up in the league before the cup tie - and we will be taking one game at a time.

"Only when the cup game comes around will it become our focus. Before then we play Stoke and Everton in the league, so we must keep our attention on those matches.

"But it is good to have so many important matches, because it shows that your team is doing well."

Reds defender Jamie Carragher sees the return of forward Fernando Torres, who scored on his comeback from injury on Saturday in the third-round win at Preston, as vital to Liverpool's aspirations this season.

Torres had not played since November because of a hamstring problem, but his late goal completed a 2-0 win at Deepdale.

Carragher said: "Having Torres back has given everyone a big lift. It is great when you see a player of that calibre coming back for the second half of the season.

"We hope the time he has been out will refresh him, because he had a long season with the Euro 2008 finals last summer.

"A lot of players have played a lot of games this season, because the manager hasn't changed it around so much.

"It has been a feather in the cap for everyone concerned with the club that we have reached the top of the table without having the best striker in the world in the side.

"You miss a player of that quality, but it will give us a lift to have him out there."




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