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9.2.07

Preview: Newcastle United vs. Liverpool FC

Liverpool is about to play an important game against Newcastle United, and both teams are trying to have their best players fit for the match.

Newcastle's defender Celestine Babayaro could return to the starting line-up of his team. Kieron Dyer is fit despite suffering from the after-effects of his exertions for England in midweek, but full-back Stephen Carr could be sidelined for a month with the thigh injury which forced him to withdraw from the Republic of Ireland team.

In the other shore, Liverpool will have captain Steven Gerrard in the squad after he played just 45 minutes for England in midweek due to a 'niggling' injury picked up last weekend in the Merseyside clash with Everton.

What's more, Spanish player Xabi Alonso misses the Barclays Premiership match at St James Park due to a one-match suspension.

SO, manager Rafael Benitez could also call in Mohamed Sissoko, who has been back in full training following a dislocated shoulder sustained at Birmingham in November.

These are the starting teams:

Newcastle United: Harper, Srnicek, Solano, Babayaro, Edgar, Taylor, Bramble, Onyewu, Huntington, Butt, Parker, Milner, Duff, Pattison, Troisi, Gate, Martins, Dyer, Sibierski, Luque, Carroll, LuaLua.

Liverpool FC: Reina, Finnan, Agger, Hyypia, Carragher, Riise, Aurelio, Pennant, Gerrard, Sissoko, Zenden, Bellamy, Crouch, Kuyt, Fowler, Gonzalez, Arbeloa, Dudek.

Rafa Benitez responds to Steve Gibson

Surprisingly, Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez decided to respond to Middlesbrough chief Steve Gibson about his negative words against his club's contribution to English football.

We mus remember that Gibson defended Steve McClaren by saying that English football is suffering the side-effects of having arguably the most successful league in the world, where teams agendas often conflict with national concerns. In fact, he expressed:"The Liverpools and the Arsenals, what do they contribute at national level?"

So, Rafa Benitez answered: "It is very easy to answer this, I just say Steven Gerrard, Jamie Carragher, Peter Crouch, and Jermaine Pennant. They were all in the England team this week.

"And we also have Scott Carson with the England Under-21s. We have more English players than many teams, and we are working to develop English young talent through our Academy and the reserves.

"As you can see, I am trying for a mix of good English and Spanish players, but everybody understands the English market.

"Indeed, we are working hard to bring English players through and I hope we can, but if you want to win things you have to try for the best if they are not available at the right price in England and Europe."
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