Benitez warns Olympic-bound Babel

Ryan Babel could be set to follow in the footsteps of Argentine Javier Mascherano and Brazilian Lucas Leiva as Liverpool players selected by their countries to play in this summer’s Olympic Games in Beijing, China.

Babel, who missed Holland’s Euro 2008 campaign with an ankle injury looks set to be called up to their Olympic squad after resuming light training. But with the Games starting on 8 August, Babel, like Mascherano and Lucas would miss Liverpool’s Champions League qualifiers and the opening games of the 2008/09 season.

Benitez has issued a warning to Babel that if he goes to represent his country in Beijing, it could disrupt his, and Liverpool’s, early-season.

He told the official LFC web site, “Obviously, we are really pleased that Ryan is coming back to training because he is an important player for us and he has worked hard to recover from the injury he suffered with Holland.

“But we are really worried because after getting him fit it is likely that we could lose him again if he is selected for the Olympics. This is a big problem ‘“ we prepare him and then he goes away with the national team.

“This season is very important for him. In his first season he was settling in but this time he has more experience and we are looking for him to give something from the beginning, so it is really important for him to start working with his team.

“This is a strange pre-season because we have to wait for players to return from the Euros at the start and then at the end we are going to lose players to the Olympics.”