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Last Updated: Tuesday, 11 April 2006, 08:18 GMT 09:18 UK
Benitez faces dilemma over Fowler
Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez (left) has yet to decide on Fowler's future
Benitez (left) has yet to decide on Fowler's future
Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez has hinted that he may not renew the contract of striker Robbie Fowler.

Fowler, who marked his 31st birthday with Sunday's winner against Bolton, is contracted until the end of the season.

The forward has been linked to Bolton and Benitez said: "There is no doubting his quality but we have to look at what his performances will be next season.

"Maybe you can find fantastic players of, say, 23 years old who also have fantastic pace and quality."

Fowler, who is in his second spell with the club, has scored in his last three starts for the Reds but has only once managed to play for a full 90 minutes for the first team since returning to Anfield.

However, Benitez added: "Robbie is top class, no doubt about it, but you also need pace and stamina levels if you want to win trophies.

"We are really happy with him because he is working so hard. But we have to know exactly how many top-class players we need and if he could be the top-class one we are looking for.

Robbie knows he needs to improve some things because he wasn't playing for some time
Rafael Benitez

"It's not that we don't believe in him but this is a big club and we need to look at different players as well.

"It's really important to have players of the passion he has so it is all in the balance.

"We need to put all those things together and weigh them up before we decide.

"Robbie knows he needs to improve some things because he wasn't playing for some time and this is another level again."

Benitez is hopeful that his squad will be boosted by the arrival of Chile winger Mark Gonzalez in the summer.

The 21-year-old was prevented from completing a 4.5m move from Albacete to Liverpool when the club failed to receive a work permit.

Instead he was loaned to Real Sociedad and capped off an eye-catching performance against Real Madrid at the weekend with a goal in their 1-1 draw.

Gonzalez may be granted Spanish citizenship this summer but Benitez feels the club already has a good case for a work permit now that he has fully recovered from his cruciate knee injury.

Benitez said: "He was the best player on the pitch against Madrid. I said at the time I was surprised by the decision not to allow him to join us.

"We are hopeful he can come in the summer because he can be an important player for us. He can make an impact in the Premiership."




SEE ALSO
Bolton might make move for Fowler
10 Apr 06 |  Bolton Wanderers
Liverpool 1-0 Bolton
09 Apr 06 |  Premiership
Benitez calls for Fowler decision
19 Mar 06 |  Liverpool


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