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Apr 10, 2009

Benitez urges players to bounce back from defeat

Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez has called on his players to show their mental strength and return to winning ways in the Premier League on Saturday.

The Reds face Blackburn Rovers at Anfield on Saturday lunchtime knowing a point would, for two hours at least, put them back above Manchester United in the table. And Benitez is eager to heal the scars of the 3-1 Champions League defeat at home at Chelsea on Wednesday night.

Benitez said : "We have an important league game next so we have to be ready. We have two full days to think and plan for the Blackburn game. That is the first priority now.

"Only after that will Chelsea be the priority in the Champions League second leg on Tuesday.

"We will have Javier Mascherano back from now on for both these games and the rest of the season. He is very important to us now.

"We have to believe anything can happen. Firstly we must do the right things against Blackburn and then go to Chelsea with confidence. If we score first there we will be in the game.

"But at Anfield this weekend I know our fans will be behind us again, that is always the case. They will know what the first priority is, and that is to win a league game.

"They know people make mistakes. But they will be determined to help us through this situation.

"To stop the result against Chelsea having a damaging effect on us, we must keep working really hard and prepare properly for the next game.

"We must find the form that we were showing in the recent weeks. We know we can do that.''

Goalkeeper Jose Reina has also called for a positive reaction to the midweek mauling by Chelsea.

Reina could do little about any of Chelsea's goals at Anfield as Liverpool's zonal marking system was twice exploited by Branislav Ivanovic.

"It is Blackburn next, another competition, and we are very much alive in the title race,'' said Reina.

"It is an important game, and early kick-offs are never easy against a rested team so we have to be ready.

"It is our job to be ready. Whenever we lose games you have to come in the next day and forget about what happened so we can try to move forward and improve.

"We now have to prove to ourselves and our fans that we're still there in the league.''

Mascherano will return to the side and there could be a place for central defender Daniel Agger, while full-back Andrea Dossena is also in line for a recall.

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