Rafa - Cup could hamper England
By Chris Stanton
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Rafa Benitez believes the fitness of some of England's top players is at risk.
Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez believes the fitness of some of England's top players could be put at risk by The Football Association's scheduling of The FA Cup.
The Reds travel to Birmingham for a cup quarter final on Tuesday just two days after a Premiership engagement at Newcastle United.
The FA have been widely criticised this week, not least, because of their decision to stage West Ham's tie with Manchester City on Monday, just days after both had been in league action.
Benitez has already suggested that the fixture pile-up will affect his players' performances but now believes England's World Cup bid could be hampered by the programme which puts the fitness of the likes of Steven Gerrard in jeopardy.
"What happens if you lose two or three England players to injury in these games," said Benitez.
"You cannot see the best of Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher when they have been given two games in three days.
"They will face the same problems that Sami Hyypia and John Arne Riise have had. They went to play international friendlies, they came back without doing much training and they were injured in the next game.
"We lost Sami for one week and Riise for 15 days. All those England players who are playing two games in three days are running a risk."
Mohamed Sissoko could be in line for a return to The Reds' side having recovered from a serious eye injury but Benitez will err on the side of caution.
"I don't know if Sissoko will play but we have been trying different types of glasses to protect the eye and we will have to see," added Benitez.