Liverpool boss Benitez: No Crouch row

Crouch was reportedly upset about being left out of Saturday's defeat of Aston Villa, but Benitez said: "I have prepared the same speech for all the players.

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"I realise that I will hear this same question regularly - because we have a good squad, and I have to decide."

Until there is a fundamental change in the rules, he joked, he will be sticking to his guns.

"Sadly, I have been unable to persuade FIFA, UEFA, and the Premier League to allow me to use 12 players in every game!" he said.

"I can only use 11 - and I cannot have more than 18 players in a squad for a European match.

"Every player knows they have team-mates to consider. They are professionals and they need to be ready for each game. I will always have the same answer."

Benitez denied his policy has caused any significant unrest to date. "I have heard that there are some problems with Crouch - that is not the case," he said.

"The same applies to Pennant, and for the likes of Javier Mascherano and the rest. It is the same answer for everyone. I now hope I do not have to repeat this to the media every week. The players know they are professionals, and this is football."

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