Rafa defends team selection policy

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez will keep Tuesday’s Champions League clash with Chelsea in mind when he picks his starting eleven for tomorrow’s Premier League match at Fulham, despite pleas from Bolton boss Gary Megson to field his strongest line-up.

The Bolton manager is echoing calls similar to those of Sheffield United manager Neil Warnock a year ago, who was upset that a weakened Liverpool team lost to Fulham late on in the season.

Megson wants a Liverpool victory at against relegation rivals Fulham at Craven Cottage on Saturday to ease his side’s relegation worries.

But Benitez insists his mind is focussed only on what’s best for his team, and that includes European commitments. He said, “I will be thinking a little about Chelsea. I have players I don’t want to risk and I’ve enough quality in the squad to win at Fulham.”

Benitez also recalled the criticisms of a year ago when Sheffield United were relegated from the Premier League and Fulham stayed up, defending his actions.

He added, “I know there was criticism last season when we did something similar at Fulham, coming from Sheffield United.

“But what did they do in their last game? They lost. So I feel it is sometimes better to look to yourself and what you do.

“Teams have 38 games to play each season, that is enough. So you are responsible for your own luck.”

The Spaniard also criticised Megson’s ordacity to request such a thing, reminding the press, “What did Bolton do in the Uefa Cup with their team selection? They left players out.

“I will use the players I believe will be good enough to win this game, and the next one and the next one. I believe 38 games is enough to be successful or not.

“Look at what all the teams in the middle of the table have been doing recently.

“They have been using different players, young players, and they have been preparing for the future.”

Liverpool take on Fulham at Craven Cottage in the league tomorrow afternoon. Kick-off is 3pm.