Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez has dropped Republic of Ireland International Robbie Keane for the Premier League clash with Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park on Saturday. Which is sure to fuel speculation about the striker’s future at the Merseyside club just four months after Keane’s £20million transfer from Tottenham Hotspur.
Despite EURO 2008 winner Fernando Torres being out with a persistent hamstring problem, Benitez has not included Keane in the Liverpool squad that travelled to Blackburn, but has insisted that there is plenty of time left in the season for the former Inter Milan player to feature.
Keane has featured in all 15 of the Reds Premiership matches this season, but has only managed to find the net twice in the Premier League since his big-money move from White Hart Lane in the summer.
However, while Benitez has claimed there is plenty of time left this campaign for Keane to come good on Merseyside. The Spaniard also declared that Keane is just “another player” and that no one at Anfield is guaranteed a place.
Benitez said: “He is working hard in training as always. The best way to support him is by talking about how he can improve. We have to analyse everything because we have to think about him and the team.
“There are six months of the season left so I can pick him lots of times but I cannot guarantee a position to anyone.
“He is a normal player, another player. As a player you have to work hard and try and do the things we are practising in training.
“We have to win. He is in the same situation as the rest of the players. Can I guarantee the position of Agger, Hyypia, Aurelio, Dossena, Carragher, no?
“The players have to play the best that they can every week and then afterwards you decide.
“We can talk about players costing £15m-£20m at other teams and they are on the bench every week but people are not talking about them.
“For me it is not a question of the price tag of the player, he is just another player.”
Benitez also refused to be drawn on how negotiations are going on a new contract for him at Liverpool, which the former Valencia coach had hoped to be done and dusted by the end of November.
“My advisors are in contact with the club and that’s it,” he said.
“I would like to concentrate on football because they are doing their job.”