Kewell thanks the boss for his recovery

Kewell calls a truce with Rafa.

Harry Kewell has struggled with injuries all season. His last appearance before Wednesday had been in the Carling Cup Final at Cardiff in February, but he’d not played too regularly prior to that.

Unfortunately for Kewell the injuries caused him trouble off the field as well as on – from the critics and even his boss. People point to his outstanding performances when he was a Leeds player and wonder why he’s just not done that for the Reds. According to Kewell the injuries he’s been suffering have played a large part in his performances not being as good as he’d like.

Benitez questioned wether Kewell really was injured or not, comments which Kewell was unhappy about at the time. There was no sign of this though when Kewell spoke about how his Spanish manager has actually helped Kewell to return to action much sooner than he’d hoped for: "I’ve gone through a rough season, but there’s a guy out in Spain who has got me back, so all credit to him. He’s a physio with a local team in Cadiz that the manager knew. We’ve worked with Liverpool and also out there. I’ve been away for about a month – two weeks here and two weeks there. If you had told me a month ago that I had a chance of even being substitute for the semi-final of the Champions League at Chelsea last Wednesday I would have taken it. I would even have signed a piece of paper."

Now Kewell seems to be much happier than he has all season: "It’s just nice to be out there and running with no pain. I’ve done a lot of massaging, stretching and strength work. It’s been all work – I’ve got no tan! I feel about 80 per cent fit now, but the difference is that I am now 80 per cent with no pain. It’s a big step forward for me. I’ve gone through the whole season with pain and it is something you have to deal with as a footballer. But it got to the stage where I had to pull the plug. I had to bite the bullet. I have a debt of gratitude to Liverpool. The boss has worked really hard to get me back fit. All I want to do is play football."

Kewell can pay back some of that gratitude today – Rafa Benitez has picked him to start in the Premiership match against Middlesborough.