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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Feb 8, 2008

Benitez backs under-fire Kuyt to get goals

Rafael Benitez has given striker Dirk Kuyt his full support as the troubled Dutchman prepares to be plunged into Sunday's make-or-break clash at Chelsea.

In a week that has seen 27-year-old Kuyt dumped from the Holland squad, with national boss Marco van Basten claiming, 'He is just not good enough at the moment,' the Liverpool star has revealed the personal and professional anguish that has blighted his season.

Benitez is considering recalling Kuyt to his starting line-up following the shattering loss of top scorer Fernando Torres with a hamstring injury sustained playing for Spain on Wednesday.

And in doing so Benitez has gone out of his way to back the £10million front man, who has gone 12 games without a goal.

Benitez said: 'Everybody was saying that Torres and (Peter) Crouch did well last week, but I will have to change that plan now with probably Dirk Kuyt involved. It will not be rotation now, but something I will have to do.

'I have no problems with Kuyt. He is a fantastic professional, a worker, so he does an important job for the team. If Torres or (Steven) Gerrard score goals it is because Kuyt is working so hard.

'He's OK. He would like to score more goals and I would like him to score more but I have every confidence in him.

'There maybe is a problem with confidence, but if we create better chances he will score.

'When strikers score they are happy, they score the winner and everybody is happy and they get man of the match awards, and that is because when you are talking about strikers everybody only talks about goals, not the work they do.'

But everyone at Anfield, players and fans alike, are aware of the personal tragedy that has overwhelmed Kuyt this season following the death in the summer of his father.

Understandably, Kuyt - who has managed only seven goals in 30 games this term -has been hit hard by the loss and he reveals the support he has had from manager, colleagues and fans alike.

He said: 'When my dad passed away during the summer it was the first time I've ever lost someone really close to me.

'I would be lying if I said it hadn't affected me. It obviously has.

'He was my biggest supporter and someone I always turned to for advice. I know if he was here right now he'd help me with the difficulties I've been having on the field.

'Naturally it has had a major impact on my life, but at the same time my performances just haven't been good enough. It is my job to score goals and I haven't done that on a regular basis. Now I have got to keep going and turn the situation around.'

He added: 'Last season nice things were said about me, I was playing a lot of games and scoring a lot of goals.

'This season it is not so good, but that is part of the job. I'm aware how it works, I'm aware how quickly the situation can change.

'I don't need to be told that I haven't scored enough, I'm a striker and it's my job to score and I know when I am not contributing the right amount.

'I know when I do things well and when I've been wrong. I'm just human and I can't do everything right.'

And as he strives to overcome his personal loss, Kuyt says: 'The club and the manager have been great to me, Rafa said he would give me all the support I needed.

'That was hugely important. And even now the manager and the lads have continued to help me.

'I truly believe I am at the right club to help me deal with this problem. And the fans have been great to me, they understand what I am going through.

'It is a special feeling when you are not at your best and they still support you.'

Benitez could play Peter Crouch as a lone striker, or field a partnership of Crouch and Kuyt up front in a game the manager admits will dictate whether they have any chance of catching Chelsea in third spot.

Liverpool will also be without long-term injured players Andriy Voronin, Daniel Agger, Alvaro Arbeloa and Fabio Aurelio and are expected to return Jamie Carragher to a central defence with Steve Finnan returning to the side. Xabi Alonso is suspended.