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Liverpool face Olympics nightmare

Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez faces a potential Olympics nightmare after Holland’s Under-23 boss Foppe de Haan announced today that he intends to include Ryan Babel in his squad.

The attacking Dutch midfielder is currently recovering from an ankle injury he picked up in training at the weekend that will rule him out of EURO 2008.

But Babel will be called upon for the Olympics in Beijing if he recovers in time.

“If Ryan recovers, he’s a sure candidate for a place in the team,” Dutch boss Foppe de Haan says.

“With his qualities, he could be a very important player for us. We must wait and see how long his convalescence will last.

“I find it a shame that Ryan has to miss the European Championship final stage.

“His absence is also a large blow to the national side. He could have been our secret weapon.”

With Javier Mascherano and Sebastian Leto set to be selected for Argentina and Lucas Leiva expected to be called up to play for Brazil, Liverpool may well be short of midfielders come the start of the season.

Manager Rafa Benitez has already said on record that he wants Masch to put club before country, with a first-class opening to the season imperative if Liverpool are to challenge for league honours.

But Mascherano is desperate to play for his country.

“I owe Rafa a lot in my career and I’m very appreciative of him, but I want to go to Beijing because nothing counts for me more than helping my nation.

“He knows I leave my life on the pitch every time I play for Liverpool.”

Even if he wanted to, Benitez is powerless to stop Masch, Babel and Co from taking part in the Olympics if selected by their country.

The Olympics’ football tournament runs from August 8-24 in Beijing, China.

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