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Liverpool boss Benitez defends Kuyt

Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez has defended Dirk Kuyt, insisting the striker cannot be criticised because "his work rate is fantastic".

Kuyt could easily have had a second-half hat-trick in Saturday's goalless draw at Blackburn and his current malaise was summed up two minutes from time when he blazed over from six yards with just goalkeeper Brad Friedel to beat.

The 27-year-old scored 14 times after his £9million transfer from Feyenoord in August last year but has struggled this season.

And although his work-rate remains among the best in the Premier League, his touch appears to have deserted him. "When you miss chances and you have two or three, it means you are there. If you are not there, you cannot miss the chance," said the Spaniard.

"I will not criticise Kuyt because he plays a lot of games and over 90 minutes his work rate is fantastic.

"He is creating chances. When you have a player who can create three or four chances for himself, normally sometimes he will score so I think I must be pleased and positive with Kuyt.

"We need to profit from the work he is doing up front and it will be easier for him to score if his team-mates can score the first goal."

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