Benitez coy on Keane
© AFP

Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez remained coy about the future of Robbie Keane after the striker was left out of his side's crucial 2-0 victory over Chelsea.

Although Benitez said that he believes Keane will still be at Anfield after Monday's deadline, there were suggestions on Sunday that the Republic of Ireland international is on the verge of returning to his former club Tottenham in a £15 million deal.

However, Liverpool confirmed on Monday they have allowed striker Robbie Keane to talk to Spurs about a possible return to White Hart Lane, just months after he moved to Anfield.

"We've allowed Robbie to talk to Spurs but we've not yet finalised a deal with them for the player," a Liverpool spokesman said.

Keane, who only joined Liverpool in pre-season, was forced to watch from the main stand as Fernando Torres struck twice in the dying moments to reduce Manchester United's lead at the top of the Premier League table to two points and keep Liverpool's title hopes alive. Even if Keane doesn't leave on Monday, his long-term future must be in doubt but the Liverpool manager appeared irritated having to answer questions about the striker.

"I think so," Benitez said unconvincingly when asked whether Keane would still be at the club after the transfer deadline had passed. Pressed for an explanation as to why he left Keane out of his plans for Chelsea, Benitez said: "You have to decide on all the players you have.

I haven't received any offers (for Keane). Has the club? I don't know,
Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez.

"We have some good players and we were thinking about the best way of approaching this game. I haven't received any offers (for Keane). Has the club? I don't know. I spoke to him before and after the game. He was pleased after because the team had won."

Pressed further about Keane's future, Benitez added: "I will not talk about if, if, if. He's here, he's our player and that's it. I want to enjoy this win. The situation is we have won three points."

Keane has played just six minutes of Liverpool's last three games and has now failed to feature in four of the last seven outings. He has not completed a full 90 minutes for the club since the 3-1 UEFA Champions League victory against PSV Eindhoven on 12 December.

Keane cost £20 million when he moved to Anfield from Tottenham but reports suggest that Harry Redknapp is ready to bring him back to White Hart Lane. Benitez, who has turned down the offer of a new contract, also refused to discuss his long term future after watching his side reclaim second spot in the table.

Co-owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett flew from America to watch Sunday's game and are due to hold talks with Benitez about his contract in the next few days.

"It doesn't matter who is in the stands, I'm always happy to win," added Benitez. "We remained strong and had more control. We didn't score until the end but we deserved to win. It was a long title race before and we were in a very good position. It is a long race now and we are in a better position."

Scolari disappointed
Chelsea manager Luiz Felipe Scolari blamed Frank Lampard's red card for contributing towards his side's defeat. The visitors were left to play the final half an hour down to 10 men after controversially being shown a straight red card for a foul on Xabi Alonso.

"The red card changed things one hundred per cent," said Scolari. "I only ask for the referee and the FA to look at the video. If they agree that Lampard did not make a foul for the red card maybe they change it."

Scolari refused to write off his side's title chances, even though Chelsea remain five points behind United having played a game more. "It's more distant after this result," he added. "It's clear it is not in our hands but we need to play game by game and we'll see what happens."