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Honigstein: "U.S. Boys" midseason report

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By ESPN Staff

Kewell forced to wait to prove his worth

Harry Kewell may well have to wait for next week's Champions League clash with Besiktas for another chance to prove his worth to Liverpool.

The Australian has been told by boss Rafael Benitez that he must justify a new contract at the end of the season when his current deal runs out.

But whether Kewell will be given a key place even on the bench at Blackburn this evening is open to debate.

The winger has been troubled by groin, foot, knee and thigh problems over the past two seasons and has managed just 96 minutes of senior playing time since hobbling off in the 2006 FA Cup final against West Ham.

He made his comeback on Wednesday in the last 20 minutes of the Carling Cup victory over Cardiff, his first senior match since the Champions League final in May last season.

However, Benitez considers that Liverpool have such a punishing workload over the next few months that he will have to consider very carefully whether he can use a player so short of match fitness.

That creates a catch-22 problem for 29-year-old Kewell, who needs time on the pitch to stake his claim for a new deal.

Benitez said: 'Harry will need time, the problem is that when you have important games and only 16 players to select, it is difficult for him.

'But at least he has played and scored for the reserves, playing only until half-time, and then he had a 20-minute spell against Cardiff.

'He is now training with the senior players, but it is not easy to say when we will use him in the future. Maybe for a European match when I can name 18 players, that might be the time.'

He added: 'We will have to see, but the Champions League looks the best bet, maybe that will be easier. But we have other players also coming back from injury and we cannot field a weakened squad.

'I can make no promises, he will have to wait for the opportunity to come along.'

Liverpool have Fabio Aurelio, Alvaro Arbeloa and Javier Mascherano back from injury for the tough trip to Blackburn, who have moved ahead of them in the Barclays Premier League.

All three figured in the midweek Carling Cup win over Cardiff, but Fernando Torres, Daniel Agger and Xabi Alonso are still three weeks away from consideration.