Benitez sparks left-back battle
Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez has told Emiliano Insua that he will have to fight for a first-team place.
Last Updated: 18/02/09 2:29pm
Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez has warned left-back Emiliano Insua that he will have to fight to regain a place in the first-team at Anfield.
The Argentine had taken advantage of injury to Fabio Aurelio and Andrea Dossena to become a regular in the plans of Benitez prior to his participation in Under 20 World Cup qualifiers.
Insua, 20, seized his opportunity to impress with mature performances throughout December and appeared to have ousted Aurelio and Dossena, with the latter struggling to live up to expectations after a £7million summer move from Udinese.
But Benitez has explained to Insua, who has now returned from international duty and could be in contention when Liverpool host Manchester City on Sunday, that he is by no means guaranteed to stroll back into the first XI.
"Emiliano was doing a good job for us before he went away so we are happy to have him back," the former Valencia boss told the Liverpool Echo.
"But now he must fight for his place again because the more good players you have competing for different positions the better it is for the team."
Benitez is also full of praise for Aurelio's performance as a midfielder in the Premier League title-chasing Reds' last outing, the dramatic 3-2 victory at Portsmouth.
The Brazilian performed with aplomb in a central role and scored a much-changed Liverpool's first goal at Fratton Park from a powerful free-kick.
Benitez, though, is adamant Aurelio, who operated in the position on occasion with ex-club Valencia, will be not be straying away from the defensive flanks on a regular basis.
"The way Fabio performed at Portsmouth was not a surprise to anyone at the club because he is one of our most technically gifted players," added the Spaniard.
"Fabio is a good professional and he is very consistent so if you ask him to do a job for the team he will do it.
"But I do not see him playing as a midfielder too much because we already have Javier Mascherano, Xabi Alonso, Steven Gerrard and Lucas who can play in that position."