Keane back in Liverpool fold?
Liverpool - Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez has played down suggestions that Anfield misfit Robbie Keane could be offloaded before the transfer window closes next week but failed to categorically rule out a sale.
The Irish striker has been linked to a possible return to Tottenham, who sold him to Liverpool for 20 million pounds in August, after he was left out of Benitez's squad for the FA Cup clash with Everton on Sunday.
Everton, Manchester City and Newcastle have also been monitoring the situation of the 28-year-old, whose confidence appears to have been undermined by Benitez's apparent lack of faith in him.
Benitez denied that his decision to drop Keane on Sunday had provoked a row with the player and said he would be back in the squad for Wednesday's trip to Wigan.
"Everyone is now important for us," Benitez said. "We have a lot of games to play in the coming weeks, in the league, cup and Europe. We will need everyone."
What followed was not exactly a ringing endorsement of Keane's ability however, with Benitez apparently suggesting he regarded the player as primarily a back-up member of his squad.
"People may not always play but two weeks later we may have an injury and then we need them," Benitez said. "Everyone, including Robbie, is training well. He has experience and hopefully he will be an important player for us.
"When Fernando Torres was injured, Robbie was working hard and doing well. If he can continue to do this we will not have any doubts over his quality."
Given the recurring hamstring problems which have dogged Torres this season, Liverpool would be taking a massive gamble if they were to sell Keane without a replacement.
"A lot of clubs have been asking about some players, to buy or loan," Benitez said. "But we have said we do not need to lose anyone, we do not need to sell anyone now.
"We do not want to lose players now if we cannot replace those players later. We need all of them for the race for the title."
Benitez added: "People are talking too much about Keane. It was just one decision about one player, he wasn't in the squad.
"He had a day off on Sunday like the rest of the players who were not involved in the game. He trained on Monday, he trained today and he will be in the squad at Wigan. If he can score goals then I will be happy."
Benitez argued that Manchester United could regularly leave out expensive acquisitions without generating the kind of headlines that have greeted every development in the Keane saga.
"If you want to be in a top side then you must have the mentality to accept that some players will play and some will not.
"Robbie is a good player, we knew that when we signed him. Maybe he is not playing at his best level, but he wants to fight for his position."