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Strike duo in contention

Dirk Kuyt wheels away after scoring the opening goal for Liverpool
Image: Kuyt: Important player

Rafa Benitez is hoping to have Dirk Kuyt and David Ngog in contention for Thursday's clash with Atletico Madrid.

Kuyt and Ngog could be ready to face Atletico

Rafa Benitez is hoping to have Dirk Kuyt and David Ngog in contention for Thursday's clash with Atletico Madrid. The Liverpool boss has seen his attacking options take a pummelling over recent weeks, with efforts at home and abroad undermined by untimely knocks. Talismanic frontman Fernando Torres has been laid low by knee surgery, while Kuyt has picked up a calf injury and Ngog is nursing a back complaint. Benitez has, however, been buoyed by the return to training this week of Kuyt and Ngog and has refused to rule them out of a midweek return date with Atletico in the Europa League. "Kuyt did not train on Tuesday and will have a light session today (Wednesday)," the Spaniard told Liverpool's official website. "We will decide tomorrow because he still has some problems. "He is a really important player for us but we will not take any risks with him if it is not necessary. "Ngog has the same situation with his back. We will have to push him more in training today and then see how he feels."


While Kuyt and Ngog could yet return to the fold, Benitez is forming contingency plans just in case. With Liverpool looking to overturn a 1-0 deficit in their semi-final encounter it is imperative he gets his tactics spot on. That means he may opt against using those nursing slight knocks in favour of handing starting berths to the more creative talents of Alberto Aquilani and Ryan Babel. Both men shone in Sunday's 4-0 demolition of Burnley and may be offered another opportunity to prove their worth at Anfield on Thursday. "We were much better in the second half against Burnley and Alberto was one of those players that did really well, so it's good for me and good for the team," said Benitez. "I was pleased to see Babel score and his confidence is high and that is good for us. We have some injuries so we need every player for this important game." On the possibility of playing Babel up front, Benitez added: "He played in the second half against Burnley as a striker and he likes to play in this position. "Hopefully if he plays he can get a chance to score some goals for us."

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