DAVID PRENTICE: Is it time for Liverpool FC boss Rafa Benitez to indulge the enigma that is Ryan Babel

By David Prentice on Feb 5, 10 08:03 AM in Columnists

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LIVERPOOL'S recent interest in Kenwynne Jones was curious.

Because the Reds already possess a striker who has exactly the same qualities, if not more, than Sunderland's occasionally effective centre-forward.

He is quicker, trickier, he has a better shot, and while his aerial ability isn't quite as good, he's certainly no slouch upstairs.


Like Kenwynne Jones he's also woefully inconsistent, but Rafael Benitez appears ready to give Ryan Babel another chance.

"Ryan was able to play the other day and he got some minutes as a striker, in the position that he likes," said Benitez.

Babel clearly has talent, but I would suggest he needs more than "minutes" to show it.

Babel's three seasons as a Liverpool footballer have been more fragmented than Humpty Dumpty.

He has never completed two 90 minute matches back to back. That's right. Never.

The longest run of his Liverpool career came in the spring of 2008, when he started six successive matches - and was substituted in all except one.

Coincidentally - or maybe not - the single game he remained on the pitch until the end he scored.

Soon after that brief run he started another five in a row - and was substituted in every one.

The longest run he has enjoyed in the Liverpool team since then is two successive starts - and even that paltry 'run' has happened on just three occasions.

With Fernando Torres still out injured for some time and David Ngog continuing to learn his striking art, there will never be a better time to give the Dutchman a decent run of games.

Rafa Benitez has showed his indulgent side in the past - most notably when Peter Crouch couldn't hit a cow's backside with a banjo - and eventually his patience was rewarded.

Perhaps now is the time to throw a similar arm around Ryan Babel's shoulders.

There could just be a rough diamond there waiting to be polished.

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