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By ESPN Staff

Gill reacts to Benitez claims

Manchester United chief executive David Gill has hit back at Rafael Benitez following the Liverpool manager's recent verbal tirade against the club.

Benitez criticised United counterpart Sir Alex Ferguson ahead of last weekend's Premier League fixtures, claiming he has been allowed to go unpunished when criticising referees.

The Spaniard then questioned the influence Gill has on the Football Association due to his position on the board at the governing body of football in England.

But Gill has defended his position, insisting there is no conflict of interest between his role at Manchester United and with the FA.

''With respect to his comments on my position they are totally inaccurate,'' said Gill, speaking in Macau at the launch of United's tour of Asia, which will take place later this year.

''The reality of it is that on the FA board sit three representatives of the Premier League in Premier League chairman Dave Richards, Bolton chairman Phil Gartside and myself.

''They are elected every year by every club in the Premier League and when we are on the board we are there representing the Premier League and I am not there representing Manchester United.

''The reality is that when you look at the decisions and issues I think anyone would understand that we don't get special treatment because of that.

''Therefore I was surprised (by Benitez's comments) and I think they are totally inaccurate.''

Meanwhile, Benitez went back into hospital on Wednesday for a third operation on kidney stones, leaving assistant Sammy Lee in charge of the league leaders.

Lee said he hoped the Spaniard would be out in time for next week's two matches against Merseyside rivals Everton.

''It's a difficult time for him because you know Rafa Benitez, all he wants to do is be out there on the training pitch with his players,'' Lee told the club's website.

''He's going for the third operation but we're hoping it won't keep him out for too long, hopefully just a couple of days.''

Liverpool host Everton in the league on Monday before the teams return to Anfield for their FA Cup fourth-round tie on Sunday week.

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