Benzema owns up

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MADRID, January 3- French striker Karim Benzema, who has struggled to hold down a first-team place at Real Madrid, says he did not try hard enough in the past to earn time on the pitch in an interview published Monday."I know when I play well and when I do it badly and if at any moment I have played less it is because I did not make enough of an effort to deserve it. Today I know that I make an effort and that is why I am playing," he told sports daily AS.

"What is key is that I have recovered my speed, I can’t guarantee that I will score three goals in every match but I will do everything possible to score at least one," he added.

The 22-year-old former Lyon frontman, who joined Real in July 2009 for 35 million euros, has enjoyed more playing time in recent weeks due to an injury to Real team-mate Gonzalo Higuain.

He scored two hat-tricks last month, the first during Real’s 4-0 Champions League win over Auxerre on December 8 and the second during the club’s 8-0 thrashing of Levante in the King’s Cup 14 days later.

Benzema has made 15 appearances for Real this season in La Liga, having started in just four.

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