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PFA defend Liverpool's Xabi

Professional Footballers' Association deputy chief executive Mick McGuire does not believe Liverpool midfielder Xabi Alonso should be criticised for missing a Champions League match to attend the birth of his first child.

The Spanish star stayed on Merseyside on Monday while the rest of the Reds squad flew to Milan for the second leg of their last-16 clash with Inter, which they lead 2-0.

Reds boss Rafa Benitez said of Alonso's late decision: "Xabi wanted to stay behind. He had said he would come if things were okay, but we couldn't wait, wait, wait, and I now have to use my squad."

Newspaper reports claim the playmaker's future at Anfield is in doubt because of his decision, but Maguire insists the club should support Alonso.

He said: "We know it's an important game but is there anything more important than what he's actually staying for?

"It's a sensitive area but it isn't something we would look to criticise at all. I don't think the magnitude of the game is the biggest consideration because you're talking about something which is more important than any employment you're in.

"Maybe what has a bearing on it is that he is an overseas player and his lady is from abroad so she's away from home and you can understand there's even more of a sensitivity because of it."

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