Benitez spells out Fowler options

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The Independent Football

Rafael Benitez has held preliminary discussions with Robbie Fowler about the Liverpool striker's future at Anfield.

Although Benitez declined to shed any more light on the prospect of Fowler winning a new contract when his short-term deal ends this summer, the Spaniard was clearly encouraging Fowler to prove his worth before the end of the season. But what is becoming evident is that Benitez is coldly assessing Fowler's long-term potential without sentiment.

Fowler, 30, is expected to start against Bolton Wanderers tomorrow, having had Benitez's requirements spelt out to him.

"I have been talking with Robbie and I am happy with him," Benitez said. "We have two options, for Robbie to stay or look for another team. We need to decide but he knows our idea and is continuing to work as hard as he can on his fitness. He clearly understands the situation, it is not a problem between him and us.

"He needs to continue to work hard but we know he is a good finisher and a good player. But we need to know how he will play next season and what level his physical condition will allow him to play at."

* The Fulham midfielder Papa Bouba Diop has signed a contract extension to keep him at the club until 2009.