Benitez counts cost of Baros' national service

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The Independent Online

In international week the club manager counts them out and, he hopes, counts them back in again. For Rafael Benitez and Sir Alex Ferguson it was, however, a case of counting the cost when their players returned.

In international week the club manager counts them out and, he hopes, counts them back in again. For Rafael Benitez and Sir Alex Ferguson it was, however, a case of counting the cost when their players returned.

Benitez already knew Milan Baros would be out for a month having aggravated his hamstring injury playing for the Czech Republic. Yesterday Ferguson learned Louis Saha would be absent for a similar period and that Ruud van Nistelrooy was doubtful for today's match at Old Trafford. They were injured playing for France and the Netherlands respectively.

While Saha was playing a friendly, Baros was at least in a competitive match but that was no solace to Benitez.

"There is nothing you can do to stop players being in this sort of international," he said. "They get hurt and you still have to pay them. They can be out for three, six or even more months and their national team pays nothing."

The Football Association has for years covered England players' wages for up to two years if they are injured on international duty but given the wages such players earn the cost is beyond the poorer associations. Since Pavel Nedved has at times subsidised the Czech team himself they would appear to come into that category.

Benitez was also upset that the Czechs played Baros despite his having just returned to fitness. "We have to protect players," Benitez said.

Saha is facing up to four weeks on the sidelines after picking up a knee injury in France's 0-0 draw with Poland. Sir Alex Ferguson - in his 999th game in charge of Manchester United - hopes Van Nistelrooy will shake off the hip injury which forced him off during the first half of the Netherlands' World Cup win over Andorra.

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