Le Tallec hits back in French row

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LIVERPOOL starlet Anthony Le Tallec is adamant France Under-21 coach Raymond Domenech must share the responsibility for his lack of match sharpness.

Domenech furiously hit out at Reds boss Gerard Houllier last week for failing to provide Le Tallec with sufficient playing time.

Le Tallec was initially signed by the Anfield outfit in the summer of 2002 but spent last season on loan with Le Havre.

He was recalled by Houllier this summer with the Frenchman wanting his young compatriot on Merseyside to acclimatise to the rigours of English football.

But the teenager has thus far been forced to content himself with a place on the substitutes' bench for two fixtures and precious little else.

This has infuriated Domenech, who could only select Le Tallec for 15 minutes of the French Under-21s' tussle with Cyprus on Friday.

Domenech is disappointed with the attacker's level of fitness and cannot see the wisdom of the youngster playing so little football.

"After a match, he is cooked," lamented Domenech.

"Le Tallec does the preparation with the professionals. On Saturday, he then sits in the stands, or sometimes he is assigned to the bench.

"It is good, he pockets the wages.

"Le Tallec lacks lucidity. In front of him, The Reds have Owen, Heskey, Baros."

Le Tallec has responded to Domenech's comments by revealing he would have given greater thought to his future had the Under-21s chief contacted him.

"I understand his reaction," opined Le Tallec. "But maybe I would have reflected more if he had called me."

Meanwhile, Liverpool manager Houllier has reiterated his view that he is willing to drag his players off the field if they suffer racist abuse.

Reds striker Emile Heskey was targeted by a section of Macedonia fans in England's Euro 2004 qualifier on Saturday and Houllier is happy to accept the consequences if he encounters a similar scenario.

"I would be prepared to take my players off," he told the club's website. "I always said one day I would do something that could get me banned.

"Racism is a real problem in football. It will take something spectacular - and I mean something drastic - to end this situation, so I will get my team out of there if necessary.

"Maybe it will get me the sack but I don't mind that risk."