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Liverpool fanzine editor John Pearman
"Fowler could well be on his way"
 real 14k

Monday, 13 August, 2001, 06:52 GMT 07:52 UK
Fowler sweats on Anfield future
Fowler and Houllier may be at odds again
Fowler and Houllier may be at odds again
Robbie Fowler's Liverpool career will be top of the Anfield agenda again when he returns from international duty with England.

The 15m-rated striker was not even on the substitutes' bench for Liverpool's 2-1 Charity Shield win against Manchester United at the Millennium Stadium.

It is understood Fowler reacted badly to Houllier's decision not to give him a starting place in Cardiff only days after leaving him out of a Champions League clash in Finland.

He cut an unhappy figure after the game - refusing to shed light on his surprise exclusion other than to say: "The gaffer has bombed me. I was dropped."

Fowler and Houllier now have a cooling off period while the controversial striker joins up with England for the friendly against Holland at White Hart Lane.

But it looks certain urgent talks about his Anfield career will be staged when he returns as his uneasy relationship with strict disciplinarian Houllier flares up again.

The Fowler situation is made even more volatile because he is currently at a delicate stage of negotiations with Liverpool over a new contract.

And Liverpool have made it clear he could be sold if he hesitates too long over a new deal.

Liverpool will refuse to run the risk of a repeat of Steve McManaman's move to Real Madrid, when the 12m-rated star moved on a Bosman free transfer.

Fowler may now be reluctant to pledge his future after he was given a clear indication of his place in the Anfield pecking order at Cardiff.

The news will alert long time admirers Chelsea, Leeds United and Aston Villa - although Blackburn Rovers boss Graeme Souness would almost certainly top the bidding for Fowler if he was made available.

It is the second time in three months Fowler has experienced disappointment in Cardiff after being left out of Liverpool's FA Cup Final starting line-up against Arsenal.

Houllier - terse response
Houllier - terse response

Liverpool manager Gerard Houllier confirmed: "It was my decision. It is an internal matter."

Rumours of another twist in Fowler's fluctuating Anfield fortunes come at a crucial time - with talks on a new Liverpool contract at a delicate stage.

Fowler was on the bench for Liverpool's Champions League qualifying round victory against FC Haka in Finland, and it now appears Houllier has earmarked Michael Owen and Emile Heskey as his first choice, with Finn Jari Litmanen also an option.

He had been linked with a big-money move to either Chelsea or Aston Villa, although that talk has subsided since Houllier said he wanted all players with less than two years left on their current deals to sign new contracts.

Meanwhile, midfielder Steven Gerrard is doubtful for England's crunch World Cup qualifier with Germany on 1 September.

Gerrard, who has been pulled out of Sven Goran Eriksson's squad for the friendly against Holland at White Hart Lane on Wednesday, missed the Charity Shield after damaging his ankle in training.

The knock came within days of Gerrard damaging his other ankle in the Champions League triumph over FC Haka in Finland last week.

We had a bit of luck but Sander Westerveld also made some good saves
  Liverpool manager Gerard Houllier
Houllier said: "Steven is out of the national team this week. I hope the problem only lasts for one or two weeks."

He was delighted with Liverpool's victory over United, saying: "I thought it was a fantastic game. We started really well and probably should have scored more in the first half.

"I expected a response from Manchester United and I got one.

"We had a bit of luck but Sander Westerveld also made some good saves. It doesn't mean anything in terms of the title but it was such an enjoyable game to watch.

"I found myself just watching it for pleasure rather than thinking about tactics. It was a credit to both teams."

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