Reds striker Torres proves too good for Benitez to leave out

Last updated at 14:01 07 December 2007

Fernando Torres' stunning impact at Liverpool could well have seen the Spaniard

play his way out of boss Rafael Benitez's rotation system.

Torres has been so good of late, and improving with every game, it seems

inconceivable that he will not lead the line at Reading on Saturday and again

against Marseille and Manchester United in the coming week.

Torres has scored 11 goals in 17 games and skipper Steven Gerrard claims the

front man is "on fire".

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Torres and Benitez

Surely Benitez will not douse those flames with a spell on the bench.

Particularly with Torres set to return to the Madejski Stadium where he struck

a stunning hat-trick in September in the Carling Cup, a performance that came

after weeks of rotation that had produced growing protests from Liverpool fans.

They wanted to see their new idol in action, and eventually got their wish.

Liverpool's season has been on the up ever since.

Benitez also knows that Torres was given a severe physical examination that

night in Berkshire and proved beyond doubt that he had the strength and

temperament for the English game.

Benitez expects Torres to suffer another bruising encounter this time as

Liverpool seek to maintain their unbeaten league record.

Benitez hinted his record signing would be in the front line.

He said: "It will be difficult at Reading because they are very strong,

physically. It will be hard for everyone but especially the strikers.

"Torres is strong enough, and also he has ability and good movement so I

believe he can handle the physical side of the game.

"Marseille may well be three days later and it could be a risk playing him at

Reading, but he has such good movement that I believe it will be difficult to

control him at Reading and he will be fine for the Champions League.

"Torres has rested for a month, anyway, with an injury, so we know now that we

can use him. The key for me is that when you play two games a week at this stage

of the season the players are fit and can handle it.

"Some players can recover from games quicker than others. If players are older

then it is not always as easy, but Torres can now cope with two games a week."

Despite Benitez's rotation, there is a spine in Liverpool's side who always

play when they are fit - Jose Reina, Jamie Carragher and Steven Gerrard. It is

fair to assume that now includes Torres.

Benitez has been impressed with the 23-year-old's work rate and understanding

of his defending from the front.

Benitez said: "Torres works for the team. But I am pleased with all the

strikers in the way that the defend from the front. Kuyt, Voronin and Crouch can

also all do that job well for the team.

"They work hard for the team, they get forward and score goals too, so I am

really pleased with the strikers and the way they are playing at the moment.

"I do not know whether I will rest players ahead of Marseille. I do not know

the team for Reading."

He added: "I have a problem deciding who is in the squad, but it is something

I like to do and a problem that many other managers would like to have also.

"We know that next we are playing against Marseille for Champions League

qualification, it is really important. But we must win at Reading if we want to

be in a strong position when we face Manchester United in the next game."

And Benitez clearly has one eye on the visit of United, when Liverpool must be

in striking distance of the champions if they want to maintain any sort of title


He said: "If we can keep the team at the top of the table and the gap does not

grow, I believe the second half of this season will be good for us.

"The team has more confidence because they are playing well and scoring goals.

It is a cycle, you play well and score so you have more confidence to keep doing


"If they can keep that belief and keep the moment, they will be just fine for

the future.

"I enjoy watching them. As a manager you are always analysing and looking for

solutions to problems, but in this case I enjoy watching when my team is playing


"You can also see the supporters happy, so I enjoy he matches even more."

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