Babbel seeks return to Anfield

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The Independent Football

Markus Babbel has told Blackburn Rovers that he wants to go back to Liverpool next season. He is keen to return to Merseyside at the end of his year-long loan despite a fall-out with the Liverpool manager, Gerard Houllier, when he left.

The veteran German full-back, who still has a contract at Liverpool, played at Anfield on Sunday when Rovers were beaten 4-0. "The plan at the moment is that I will go back to Liverpool at the end of the season," he said later.

"You saw the atmosphere here when we played them and the reception I got off the supporters. The fans are fantastic and so is this place. I loved it when I played here and I would love to be playing here again. For me it is the best stadium in England. I hope I can come here next season. But all that is for the future. This season I am a Blackburn player and will carry on doing my best for them."

Babbel conceded that Rovers performed badly on Sunday. "We have to change things quickly. It has been difficult because I have never played for a team playing to save their Premiership place, but I will do all I can for them. I am not the type of person who will just play for Blackburn simply to get my fitness back."

Babbel added: "At the time it was the right option when Graeme Souness took me from Liverpool, and it has been a great help. Now I would like to give something back to them by helping them stay up. In a perfect world for me I would be back here playing for Liverpool next season in the Champions' League."

Rovers are heading for their biggest game of the season with doubts about their two most battle-hardened veterans.

Their captain Garry Flitcroft and centre-half Craig Short may miss the crucial game against Leeds on Saturday. Flitcroft is suffering from a hamstring injury that has dogged his season, while Short is also being handicapped by a calf injury.

"The Leeds game is massive now," Flitcroft said. "The gaffer has told us we need to win three of our last seven games. We have to start with that one."

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