Liverpool v West Brom: Preview

Rafael Benitez wants his new contract signed and sealed before the end of the month.

The Liverpool manager will open talks on an extension to his current deal next week after a “positive” phone call from co-owner Tom Hicks.

But Benitez has made it clear he is only interested in a new long-term deal which would extend his stay at Anfield to at least a decade.

The talks will boost a Reds outfit already buoyed by the return of Fernando Torres for the Barclays Premier League game against West Brom.

The Spanish striker, who has missed the last six games with a hamstring injury, is expected to start the evening kick-off against the Baggies at Anfield although Benitez will not make a firm decision until nearer kick-off.

He would like to reunite Torres with strike colleague Robbie Keane, who has managed just two goals all season, and was forming an impressive partnership with the Spaniard before injury ruled out the 24-year-old.

Benitez has been manager of Liverpool for four-and-a-half years and has 18 months of his current deal still to run.

He has told the club’s American owners he is looking for a contract which will allow him to be part of Liverpool’s “long-term future.”

And with a strong belief that there could be a change of ownership in the next six months still existing, it makes sense for Benitez to want his future sorted out quickly.

He said: “My idea is to do it as soon as possible. I would like to see it signed before the end of the month if that is possible.

“They have to talk to my agent about the conditions of the deal, but clearly the length of the contract is crucial.

“If I can stay here for a long time I would be very pleased. It is rare to see managers at clubs for a long time, but that would be the right way.

“Stability is the key to winning trophies and being contenders for the title.”

Asked about a five-year contract, Benitez added: “Clearly that would be very good, I would like to be here for a very long time.

“I do not want to keep talking about my contract. It is not good for the team and it is not good for the club. We are in a good position that could be good for the future, so I want this contract concluded quickly.”

West Brom goalkeeper Scott Carson is bracing himself for a testing return to Liverpool.

Carson, who moved to the Hawthorns in a £3.25million deal this summer after three frustrating years at Anfield, knows just what to expect from his old team.

The Baggies are once again without central defenders Leon Barnett (knee) and Abdoulaye Meite (calf) for the encounter.

Scottish international midfielder James Morrison is fit to play after recovering from the back problem that forced him off against Blackburn last Saturday.

Midfielder Filipe Teixeira, who has not played since March due to a knee ligament injury, is also set to return to the squad.

But Carson is focused on stopping Torres.

“Torres is a world-class striker and as a player you want to operate against the best,” he said.

“I would like to see him play and hopefully I can play well and prevent him from scoring.

“Tony Mowbray has been working on the shape of our team and hopefully we can click and be stronger at the back after conceding a few goals in our recent games.

“Hopefully I can go there and have a good game. If Torres plays it just means that I have to be even more on my toes.

“If we can go to Anfield and frustrate them for as long as we can who knows what the result will be.

“It would be great to get a point and give us a lot of confidence for the following game against Chelsea.

“I don’t know what kind of reception I will get from the Liverpool fans.

“In the past David James and Chris Kirkland have had good receptions but you never know.”

Albion have slipped into the relegation zone after three defeats and a draw in their last four games, but England international Carson remains upbeat.

He added: “No one is panicking here at Albion. We are confident that we will be okay. It’s too early to start panicking.

“You lose a few games and you are always going to drop down the table but it is always going to be tight.

“Back to back wins take you right up the table. It is not until after Christmas that the league begins taking shape.”

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