Liverpool boss Benitez delighted with recent form

Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez is delighted with the response from his players since last week's defeat at Besiktas.

Reflecting on Wednesday night's 2-1 Carling Cup defeat of Cardiff City, Benitez said: "Since the defeat by Besiktas, I can only say that things have been very positive. There has been players coming back from injury, new young players coming into the side, things have started to improve.

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"I have been pleased with the performances of younger players like Charles Itandje, Jack Hobbs, Lucas Leiva and Nabil El Zhar, all who have come into the squad.

"And coupled with that has been the improved form of Steven Gerrard. I notice people have questioned why we played him and Jamie Carragher against Cardiff. That is strange because usually I am told I should play my strongest team. Now when they do play people ask why.

"We needed a strong team against Cardiff, but although I wanted to rest Gerrard the fact that we had so many injuries and sickness meant that I had to use him.

"It would have been better for him to be on the bench, but in the end it was good to have him on the pitch because he is playing well, scoring goals and that is fantastic for him and for us.

"The team has improved, goals have been going in and the response has been fine. I believe we are still in a very good position in the league and I accept that the Champions League form must improve, and now we must maintain our improved form against Blackburn and Besiktas.

"But if Steve keeps playing like this and the injured players start coming back, things will only get better. It is also good to see Harry Kewell back after all this time, and I was relieved that Javier Mascherano was not as seriously injured as was first thought. He was training on Monday and back in the squad against Cardiff."

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