Liverpool's forgotten man Ryan Babel insists youth will no longer be an excuse if he once again flops at Anfield next season.

The winger, who can also play as a central striker, has made just six league starts in his second campaign on Merseyside, following an £11.5million move from Ajax in summer 2007.

"In December I'll be 23. When you reach that age, then in my eyes you aren't a potential talent any more," Babel said.

"Next season age isn't an excuse any more, and that's an excuse trainers use too often, saying 'You're young and you have the time'," he added.

Babel was hailed as potentially the next Thierry Henry upon his arrival in the Barclays Premier League, but the promise shown in glimpses during his debut season has not developed into anything more substantial.

Reds manager Rafael Benitez signed Albert Riera last summer to fill the left-wing berth that Babel had failed to make his own, and the Dutchman admits he is fast running out of time to prove his worth.

"My goal this season was to progress to a higher level and be in the starting line-up. But they brought in another left forward in the summer and he's been playing regularly," Babel added.

"But I have patience and I know that I have to work hard and I have to show the manager that I am ready and have earned the right to be picked."

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