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By ESPN Staff
Apr 13, 2006

Benitez considering Fowler contract situation

Rafael Benitez admits it would be 'easy' for him to give Robbie Fowler a new contract.

The Liverpool boss knows that would further increase his popularity on Merseyside, where the Anfield faithful are willing him to grant Fowler's wish of a new deal when his current short-term contract ends this summer.

But the Anfield chief, who is likely to keep faith with Fowler on Sunday in the Lancashire derby at Blackburn, insists he has a responsibility to the club to look at all the options first.

Fowler has scored in his last three starts for Liverpool and has made it clear he is prepared to wait patiently for a decision from the Spanish coach.

Benitez says: 'It would be easier to just say 'yes' to Robbie, but I need to be sure, to analyse and to talk to my staff to make sure.

'It is not a question of saying 'is he a good player' of course he is. But that is not the point, it is whether it is the right decision for the club.'

Benitez adds: 'It is difficult for me. It would be easier to say we want to renew Fowler's contract, and we would have an agreement. That would be really easy for me.

'But I have a responsibility to check all the possibilities and he knows that. Then I will try to do the best for the club.

'He is working to improve his physical condition and we will decide in a few weeks.'

Benitez has found himself linked with more than a dozen strikers in recent days, from Blackburn's Craig Bellamy to Real Madrid legend Raul.

Benitez dismisses such talk, saying: 'The strikers' situation does depend on Fowler, he is an option. People will read a lot of names that I am supposed to be interested in.

'I do not like discussing such things now, and I am very surprised by the amount of names and people saying I have talked to players. That is not true.

'I am happy with my strikers because they are scoring goals and I want to see them scoring more goals until the end of the season.

'I have read the media, I see many names. One is Raul and he is a good player, a very good player. But I would prefer to only think about the future of our strikers.'

Benitez is still determined to complete the capture of Chilean winger Mark Gonzalez, who is expected to get a Spanish passport shortly which would negate the need for a work permit.

One has already been refused, but Liverpool now believe the youngster's quality is so well known that when they re-apply, permission will be granted by the Home Office.

Benitez says: 'We will hope to get Mark Gonzalez with a work permit and a new passport, I was surprised when we did not get permission before for him to join us because of the quality he had.

'He has done well in Spain on loan with Real Sociedad, and he is better than many players in the Premier League. Hopefully we will be able to solve the situation now.

'My idea is to use him next season, he has enough quality for the Premier League.'