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Serie A season preview: AS Roma

AS Roma 2 hours ago
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 Posted by ESPN Staff
May 5, 2006

Delighted Fowler determined to repay the faith

Liverpool striker Robbie Fowler is looking forward to paying back manager Rafael Benitez for giving him a new one-year contract by scoring the goals which will help the club to win the Barclays Premiership title.

The 31-year-old will sign a new 12-month contract next week after impressing since making a surprise return in the January transfer window from Manchester City.

Fowler has scored four times in 15 matches in his second spell at Anfield but believes there is more to come with Liverpool on the verge of making that final step on the domestic front.

'This club is going places. If you look at the table this season compared to last season there's been a big improvement,' he said.

'Hopefully we can take it a little bit further next season. I would love to be part of a Liverpool side that wins the league championship and I am sure the manager is on the right lines towards achieving it.'

On his new contract, Fowler told the club's website www.liverpoolfc.tv: 'I can't put my feelings into words. This is something I have wanted for a long time.

'I was buzzing when I got a six-month deal so you can imagine how happy I am to have been given another year. I am absolutely over the moon.

'I feel as though I've done all right and the manager has been pleased with me as well. I'm looking forward to next season now.

'I had been treating every game as though it could be my last for Liverpool but now I've got the added incentive of knowing I'll get more chances to wear the red shirt next season.'

Although Benitez has liked enough of what he has seen of Fowler to offer a new contract he has warned the former England striker he must improve his general fitness further.

'If he can improve his physical condition further then he will be really good for us,' said Benitez.

'Now he is really happy and focused to be as fit as possible for the future. It has not been easy for him to improve that much at the stage of the season he arrived but next season will be different, he will be fitter and scoring a lot of goals. That is the quality he has.'

Fowler has played 344 matches for Liverpool, scoring 175 goals in his two spells, having joined the club as a schoolboy before leaving for Leeds and then Manchester City until his surprise return.

Since then he has battled to regain fitness and prove he is not a spent force at the top level and the award of a new contract highlights the success he has had.

Benitez added: 'It is nice to see a player like him, after so many years in the game, come here and not think about the money, only that he wants to play for his club and do his best for the supporters. That is a really good thing for the game.

'In the future he will be a great aid for us but I do not see him being the main, first choice striker. More likely as one of a group.'

The manager revealed once he had brought Fowler back to Anfield he was always inclined to offer him a longer-term deal but had to be 100% sure it was right for the club.

'I have been happy with Robbie, he was working hard, scoring goals and playing well,' said Benitez.

'Our idea was to analyse everything but my thoughts were always to say yes.

'But you need to be sure, it would have been easy to say yes straight away because that was what everybody wanted but I had a responsibility to make the right decision for the club after consulting with everybody on the subject.'

Fowler is expected to start at Portsmouth on Sunday because he is ineligible for the FA Cup final the following weekend, although Benitez is undecided over the make-up of his side.

Liverpool are looking to snatch the runners-up spot from Manchester United if they win at Fratton Park and the Old Trafford club fail to beat Charlton.

'I really do not know my best side at the moment,' said Benitez.

'I will pick a side to play Portsmouth and then work on one to face West Ham in the Cup final. I honestly have not decided.'