HOULLIER CALLS TUNE TO SONG
By Peter O`Rourke. Last Updated: January 1, 1970 1:00am
LIVERPOOL boss Gerard Houllier is angry that he may lose Cameroon defender Rigobert Song for seven games if he decides to play in the Olympics, but star striker Robbie Fowler is expected to boost the Frenchman by turning out for the reserves next week.
Houllier has warned Song that his days at Anfield could be numbered if he puts the Olympic team before his club side.
The 24-year-old will be unavailable for around for weeks if he decides to represent his country in Sydney and that is not acceptable to the Liverpool manager.
"If he goes, I will draw my own conclusion from that," said Houllier. "We as a club do not want him to go to the Olympics. I don't think he should go.
"It's down to him because he must decide if the interests of the club come before those of the Olympic team.
"I want to stress this is not a club against national team situation, but a club versus Olympic one.
"When it was the African Nations Cup it was different because he was playing for the national team.
"But he has never played in the Olympic team and did not participate in the qualifying stages of the tournament.
"We have many games to play in September and need a strong squad. If he goes to the Olympics as well as other national games coming up this year, he'll have been away for the best part of three months. That's not acceptable," said Houllier.
Song has been linked with a move away from Anfield all summer with Blackburn Rovers the latest club to declare their interest in signing the Cameroon captain.
Meanwhile Liverpool`s acting captain, in the absence of the injured Jamie Redknapp, Robbie Fowler could give Houllier a major boost by being available for first team selection earlier than expected.
Fowler is expected to play his first match of the season on Monday for the reserves against Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsbrough, having returned to full training this week.
If he comes through that game unscathed, Fowler has an outside chance of being in the Liverpool squad for Thursday's Uefa Cup tie against Rapid Bucharest in Romania.
Fowler has missed the start of the new season after picking up an ankle injury in a pre-season friendly against Glentoran, but Houllier is hopeful the England forward will soon be pressing for a starting place.
"Robbie is looking much better," said Houllier. "I expect him back in training before the end of the week. The sooner he can play a game again the better for us, and of course the better it will be for him.
"It is just over a month since Robbie was injured and his rehabilitation has gone very well. The physios have done an excellent job with his recovery."