Olympic woe for Reds

Liverpool youngsters set to miss the start of 2008/09 season

Mascherano: International duty

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Liverpool are set to hold talks with Javier Mascherano over the midfielder's summer plans.

Argentina are keen to include the 23-year-old as an over-age member of their Beijing Olympic squad, but his club are reluctant to let him go.

Rafa Bentiez is already resigned to losing Lucas Leiva and Sebastian Leto to the tournament, as at 21 the pair fall inside the criteria laid down for entry into the competition.

However, with the event scheduled to run from 8th-24th August any English-based players will be forced to miss the start of the Premier League season which gets under way on 16th August.

Benitez is understandably keen to avoid seeing three members of his first-team unit head to China and will be discussing the situation with those involved in the coming weeks.

Difficult

"This is a very difficult situation for us because we have Lucas, who is eligible through his age with Brazil, and Mascherano, who can play for Argentina as an overage player, so I need to discuss his position with him," said the Liverpool boss.

"We have some time so we need to wait and we will try to find a solution with Mascherano that will be the best for the club and the best for the player.

"It is a difficult situation because if the countries want the best players to take part they have to go to the professional clubs.

"But from our point of view, we have to manage the situation as well as we can."