By Eleanor Crooks, PA Sport
Professional Footballers' Association deputy chief executive Mick McGuire does not believe Liverpool midfielder Xabi Alonso should be criticised for missing a Champions League match to attend the birth of his first child.
The Spanish star stayed on Merseyside on Monday while the rest of the Reds squad flew to Milan for the second leg of their last-16 clash with Inter, which they lead 2-0.
Reds boss Rafa Benitez said of Alonso's late decision: "Xabi wanted to stay behind. He had said he would come if things were okay, but we couldn't wait, wait, wait, and I now have to use my squad."
Newspaper reports claim the playmaker's future at Anfield is in doubt because of his decision, but Maguire insists the club should support Alonso.
He said: "We know it's an important game but is there anything more important than what he's actually staying for?
"It's a sensitive area but it isn't something we would look to criticise at all. I don't think the magnitude of the game is the biggest consideration because you're talking about something which is more important than any employment you're in.
"Maybe what has a bearing on it is that he is an overseas player and his lady is from abroad so she's away from home and you can understand there's even more of a sensitivity because of it."
Javier Mascherano is set to replace Alonso after recovering from a groin injury, and McGuire believes Liverpool have the players to progress despite his absence.
"One would have to say the system the clubs use, where they have large squads, they would hopefully be able to cope with it.
"I have sympathy with both. I have sympathy with the club, who have got one of their biggest games and he's a fantastic player.
"Hopefully the rotation system, with Mascherano coming back, will ensure they won't be short in that area but one has to understand society today is different and we have to change to that.
"But I can fully understand the player. People will tell you it's one of the best moments of their lives and he'll probably feel she needs more support.
"It's something that is above any employment no matter how important that employment is. It's an individual decision and whichever decision you take the club must support you."
utusanLFC : If you believed what the UK papers have written about the whole episode, it as if Alonso is going for an exit. Rediculous! Obnoxious! There's no way we can let Alonso walk away. After all, he is one of the 6th important players the club sought to sign an extension of playing contracts. You don't simply trashed someone who wants to witness his child birth. Silly.