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Babel in line for Reds return

20 Aug 2008 - 14:54:50

Liverpool winger Ryan Babel could feature against Middlesbrough on Saturday following his return from Olympic duty.

The Netherlands international is due back at the club's Melwood training ground following his nation's elimination at the quarter-final stage of the Beijing games.

Babel's fitness will be assessed before Rafael Benitez considers his squad for the visit of the Teessiders to Anfield, but the Reds boss is hopeful the forward can make his first Premier League appearance of the new season.

"It's bad news for Holland that they went out but it means we get a player back," he told the club's official website.

"Hopefully he can be here either today (Thursday) or tomorrow to train with the rest of his team-mates.

"He has been playing important games so I don't think there will be any problems with his fitness, but our doctor and fitness coaches will check with him and then we will see about the weekend.

"I am sure he will be okay. If he trains normally then he can be available for Middlesbrough."

Meanwhile, Benitez believes the 21-year-old can play a more important role in his second season at Anfield.

"He's one year older and more experienced now," he continued.

"He knows the club, he knows his team-mates and so I'm sure this could be a big season for him."

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