Benitez coy on Ruud link

Carragher hails the reaction of Darby after Madejski draw

Van Nistelrooy: Point to prove

Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez has played down suggestions that he is attempting a controversial move to sign former Manchester United striker Ruud van Nistelrooy.

The Reds boss has been linked with the Dutchman, now at Real Madrid, as an attacking alternative to Fernando Torres to ease season-long injury problems.

Van Nistelrooy is out of favour in Spain's capital and has a point to prove to the management team of Holland ahead of this summer's World Cup finals having overcome his own fitness nightmares.

But Benitez claims discussions regarding the ex-United star are not taking place amid reports that wages in the region of £120,000-a-week are a stumbling block.

He told Liverpool's official website after Saturday's FA Cup draw at Reading: "We are not talking about players but we are not trying so it will be very difficult."

Benitez is understood to be in the final stages of meetings regarding Atletico Madrid winger Maxi Rodriguez, while Greece international full-back Vasil Torosidis has been rumoured to be a target.

Struggle

Liverpool have struggled horribly this season when a thin squad has been exposed by injuries and their Spanish manager confesses plans to reinforce are taking place.

Benitez added: "We are working hard. We have had some good conversations with some of them but my concern now is to have good conversations with my players."

Meanwhile, senior defender Jamie Carragher has praised the performance of Stephen Darby after the full-back made his second start of the season at the Madejski Stadium.

The 21-year-old also featured in the first XI for the UEFA Champions League meeting with Fiorentina at Anfield when his mistake gifted the Italians a winning goal.

Carragher was therefore impressed with his young team-mate's response, saying: "He played very well and I'm really pleased for him.

"I thought he also did well against Fiorentina recently, and he was just unfortunate at the end of that game with the mistake.

"It wasn't the easiest game against Reading, and it was very difficult to play in, but he showed great character to come back from it."