Benitez urges Denmark to take care with Agger

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The Independent Football

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez has warned Denmark coach Morten Olsen he needs to be "sensible" with defender Daniel Agger.

The 24-year-old centre-back has only just recovered from a back operation and has yet to feature for the first team, although he played 68 minutes for the reserves last week and made the bench for Sunday's defeat at Chelsea.

He is in Denmark's squad for World Cup qualifiers against Sweden and Hungary, but Benitez has warned Olsen against over-using the defender.

"It was a difficult decision to bring Agger back into the squad, because he wasn't fit enough to start against Chelsea," said the Liverpool boss.

"He is now with Denmark, and I hope they will be careful with him. They have to be sensible.

"It's good for him, because he needs to play, but he knows it will be tough for him to play both games in a row."

Benitez admits he has mixed feelings about players going away for the current international break.

The Spaniard is delighted young left-back Emiliano Insua's form for the club this season has been recognised with a first call-up for Argentina.

But he is less enamoured with the prospect of Holland internationals Dirk Kuyt and Ryan Babel having to travel halfway around the world for a friendly against Australia in Sydney.

Twenty-year-old Insua has been first choice at left-back this season, starting every Barclays Premier League and Champions League match.

Having started to fulfil the promise which persuaded Benitez to sign him permanently from Boca Juniors in August 2007 - he was previously on loan as a 17-year-old - he has now attracted the attention of Argentina boss Diego Maradona.

"It is very good news for him and for us," said Benitez on Insua's selection for crucial World Cup qualifiers against Uruguay and Peru.

"He is a young player who is doing well for us. When you talk about young players, the idea is to try to promote them.

"Emiliano was a very good signing by our scouting department - a young player with potential and quality - and it was very good business because the price was good.

"Last year we had three or four clubs asking about him. But we said 'no', because we want to keep him."

Benitez would have liked to keep Kuyt and Babel on Merseyside, and Liverpool even approached the Dutch Football Association about the situation.

"We tried to talk with the Dutch Federation about Dirk and Ryan having to travel so far, but they have the right to call the players up for these games," said the Reds boss.

"We tried to find some kind of solution. But it was impossible and it is not an ideal situation for them to travel to Australia for a friendly."

On the plus side, the pair will return to Melwood early next week - while the likes of Insua and compatriot Javier Mascherano and Brazil midfielder Lucas do not arrive back from South America until Friday - just 24 hours before the trip to Sunderland.

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