Benitez wants cup of joy

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Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez already has his sights set on the Carling Cup final as his team prepare for their opening test against Leeds.

Benitez is eyeing the showpiece at Wembley on February 28, considering it is a competition he has not won and this is his sixth tilt at the trophy. Liverpool's team for the clash at Elland Road, which has been the stage for several memorable clashes between the teams down the years, is likely to show many changes as Benitez gives his fringe players a chance to impress against the League One leaders.

"We will try to manage the squad for the match and use some different players," he said. "But we want to win and get to the final."

Benitez, whose Reds team went close to winning the competition in 2005 when they lost 3-2 to Chelsea, said: "In my first season we got to the Carling Cup final and were winning with 10 minutes to go before we conceded an own goal. I would like to go to the final again and make amends for that defeat."

Even though he is looking beyond Tuesday night's match, Benitez believes his team will have to work hard in West Yorkshire and he is likely to have big guns Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres on the bench.

Leeds have won 15 home games in succession and Benitez said: "Their striker Jermaine Beckford has impressed a lot of people, and there is a view that he is the best striker in the Football League. He has pace and ability. He scores a lot of goals and will be a danger."

The Spaniard added: "I have no doubts that this will be a very difficult match. They have quality and they are a big club with great traditions.

"It is a real surprise to me that they have fallen so far. They will want to win this one because of the situation they find themselves in. They have passion, quality and the fans are always really behind their team."

Liverpool are likely to include second-choice goalkeeper Diego Cavalieri, new Greece defender Sotirios Kyrgiakos, Swiss defender Philipp Degen, Italian full-back Andreas Dossena and Holland winger Ryan Babel.

Ukrainian striker Andriy Voronin and French youngster David Ngog, who scored the winner for the reserves last week against Manchester United, could also start the game.

Copyright (c) PA Sport 2009, All Rights Reserved.

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Ryan Babel
David Ngog
Premier League
Fernando Torres
Manchester United
Steven Gerrard
Jermaine Beckford
Leeds United
Philipp Degen

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