Rafa in Kewell admission

Reds boss to decide on winger at end of season

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Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez concedes that out-of-favour winger Harry Kewell could struggle to win a new contract at the club after giving his blessing for the player to join-up with Australia next week.

Kewell, whose current deal runs out in the summer, has been out of the picture since the FA Cup defeat by Barnsley and was not even in the squad that travelled to Italy this week for the UEFA Champions League victory over Internazionale.

And now Kewell has asked for, and been given permission by Benitez, to link up with Australia for their two forthcoming matches in the international break.

It means Kewell will miss a couple of key Premier League games against Manchester United and Everton, raising doubts about his long-term future at Anfield.

Difficult

"They play two games and he is not playing here, so it is good that he goes with them and plays to get fit," noted Benitez.

"I have given him permission because he was not playing for us at the moment. So it is positive for him and his national team that he plays for them.

"The contract will be more difficult for him, if he plays well for Australia and comes back fit he could have a part to play at the end of the season.

"But his situation could become more difficult. I will make a decision at the end of the season."

Kewell will be missing again on Saturday when Liverpool face Reading aiming to maintain their push to finish in fourth spot.

Reading, who beat Liverpool earlier in the season, are battling against relegation, but Benitez believes Steve Coppell's men will beat the drop.

Backing

"Reading have a very good team spirit, they work hard and they have beaten us in the league. That was our first defeat of the season and a very disappointing day for us.

"We know we must keep winning and scoring goals. But Reading are a good side with a good manager and spirit, it is difficult to play against a side who work as hard as they do.

"It is a surprise that they have struggled because last season they did really well. But they have now won two games in a row and shown they have character.

"If they keep working this hard they will soon be safe. They are doing a good job and they have the right mentality to stay in the division."