Thursday, September 13, 2007

Carragher Fit For Pompey Match

Jamie Carragher has won his battle to be fit for Liverpool's clash at Portsmouth at the weekend.

The Liverpool defender has overcome his broken rib injury and has trained normally with his team-mates at Melwood this week.

He is expected to go straight back into the side for Saturday lunchtime's game at Fratton Park when the Reds will be looking to consolidate their position at the top of the table.

"Carragher has been training normally with the rest of the players who’ve been here all week," said Benitez. "He is okay and I think he will be available this weekend, which is good news for us.

"Fabio Aurelio is now getting closer to the squad after playing 45 minutes for the reserves. Harry Kewell is also running again and is nearer to fitness.

"Today, I’m keeping my fingers crossed for the safe return of all our internationals. It's not going to be easy for us to travel to Portsmouth tomorrow to play without one training session.

"All you can ask the players to do when they return is some running, so it's always a difficult time."

Benitez suffered a scare when Daniel Agger was substituted after 28 minutes of Denmark's international against Liechtenstein last night.

However, the Dane was only subbed because he is one yellow card away from a suspension and his country's next fixture is against Spain.

Rafa Rues Fixture List

Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez has again vented his frustration at the fixture list in England.

Benitez is trying to prepare his squad for Saturday's lunchtime kick-off at Portsmouth on the back of the international break.

But the Spaniard claims it is 'impossible' to formulate his plans properly due to the limited time he will spend with his players in the build-up to the game.

"I am really disappointed with the fixtures that we have because it is more difficult here in England," Benitez told the League Mangers' Association's official website.

"You play early kick-offs on the Saturday (after internationals) and it is impossible to prepare the team properly.

"The players arrive back on Thursday evening and the only thing you can do with some of them is just to run a little bit and send them home.

"Friday morning you will have a light training session and you will travel to Portsmouth in this case and you cannot prepare the team.

"Normally the players that are going away are internationals because they are good players and you need these players for winning every game.

"For me it's impossible to prepare the team properly, you can prepare small details, but to prepare the team physically and mentally for the game will be difficult."

Liverpool Star Faces Axe After Bust-up With Coach

Furious Ukraine boss Oleg Blokhin has threatened to axe Andriy Voronin for the match against Scotland after a touchline bust-up.

The Liverpool hitman, a substitute in his country's 2-1 defeat to Italy, reacted angrily to comments made by his coach late in the game.

A toe-to-toe argument then broke out between the pair on the sidelines and no-nonsense Blokhin revealed he may now drop Voronin for the match against Alex McLeish's men next month.

When asked why the Anfield star was benched at the start, Blokhin fumed: "It's obvious. Voronin hardly strengthened us when he came on.

"In fact, he was one of the reasons Italy got the second goal. He looks to me like he has put on an extra three kilos of weight.

"We created 10 chances in the match and only took one. It's no wonder there was frustration.

"But no footballer has any right to speak the way he did to his coach. If he wishes to shout like that, let him go to Liverpool and say it to Rafa Benitez!

"After the match, I apologised to the team. I know that it was partly my fault, too.

"However, Andriy obviously doesn't consider it necessary to apologise and, if he continues like that, then I won't think it necessary to include him in the national team!"

But Voronin last night refused to back down in the war of words with Blokhin that could result in him being dropped.

The 28-year-old ace, capped 48 times for his country, said: "You must understand that I do not welcome this situation, but I am no longer a child. I won't allow anyone to patronise me the way Blokhin did."

Ukraine got their only goal through Chelsea superstar Andriy Shevchenko before Italy's Antonio Di Natale struck his second of the match to secure the win.

However, the former AC Milan striker has now given up hope of qualification and admitted his country are playing for honour in their four remaining group games.

Shevchenko said: "Italy made the most of the few chances they had and that's what separates them from the rest.

"The games ahead of us are a great chance for our young players to show what they can do.

"But our main motivation in these fixtures is to defend our country's honour."

Scotland face Ukraine in their next Euro 2008 qualifying match at Hampden on October 13.