Benitez linked with Real job

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The Independent Online

The Liverpool manager, Rafael Benitez, is the second favourite to land the Real Madrid job, if and when it becomes vacant, according to reports in Spain last night.

The Liverpool manager, Rafael Benitez, is the second favourite to land the Real Madrid job, if and when it becomes vacant, according to reports in Spain last night.

The Real president, Florentino Perez is a fan of former Valencia coach Benitez, but the Juventus manager, Fabio Capello, is favourite to take over at the Bernabeu, if and when the present incumbent, Wanderley Luxemburgo, is sacked, says Marca.

Bentitez played down the link at a press conference yesterday and also claimed that the long-term future of his captain, Steven Gerrard, remains at Anfield. Capello led Real to the Primera Liga title in 1997 in his first stint at the club.

Fernando Morientes will return to Benitez's starting line-up as Blackburn Rovers visit Anfield tonight. The Spaniard missed the Premiership defeat at Newcastle with a groin strain and was cup-tied for the Champions' League triumph in Leverkusen last week.

Harry Kewell, who missed both those games with ankle and knee problems, will be out for another three weeks at least, says Benitez. Despite specialist advice last week that the Australian should rest for up to three months, Liverpool are seeking further medical opinion to see whether the injury problems can be solved any more quickly. Liverpool will also be without Djimi Traoré and Josemi, both of whom could be fit within a fortnight.

Benitez believes Xabi Alonso could also recover from his broken ankle to figure in the second leg of the Champions' League quarter-final next month.

For Blackburn Rovers, Robbie Savage is likely to miss out with the groin injury which also ruled him out of last Sunday's FA Cup quarter-final victory over Leicester City. Hughes has similar doubts over the match-winner in that game, Paul Dickov, who has groin and thigh injuries.

Two successive Premiership wins, including a victory at Everton, have eased Blackburn's relegation fears - they are now seven points clear of the drop zone.

Hughes said of his team's improvement: "We have been together for a number of months now and everyone can see that we are a different kind of Blackburn team. We are more resolute and we don't accept getting beaten as easily as we did before, and defensively we are as good as anyone else."

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