Misfiring Torres still 'a long way'  short of his best, admits Reds boss Benitez


Rafa Benitez admits that Liverpool's £21million record signing Fernando Torres is still 'a long way' short of his best.

The Spain striker looked ineffective on his return from a hamstring injury on Wednesday, when he was substituted in the 56th minute in the 4-2 Carling Cup defeat at Tottenham.

It was supposed to be a launchpad for a revival of last season's spectacular scoring exploits, after a month out.

Now Liverpool boss Benitez concedes that Torres could find himself back on the bench at Bolton this lunchtime.

Spanish flyer: But it may be a while before Liverpool fans see Torres back to his brilliant best

Spanish flyer: But it may be a while before Liverpool fans see Torres back to his brilliant best

The 24-year old Spaniard's goals are crucial to Liverpool's title challenge, but Benitez accepts he may not be at his best until next month.

Benitez, who also harbours misgivings about Torres's call-up by Spain so soon after his hamstring tear, said: 'What the Tottenham game told me is that Fernando is still very, very short of his true level.

'He is training well enough, but it is matches that teach you how a player is and he was nothing like as sharp as normal.

'Maybe it will be another two or three weeks before we see him back at his best and I will have to think about what would be best against Bolton. It is clear he is not 100 per cent, so starting him on the bench would be an option.

'It is no bad thing that he has to compete for his position. I like to see that. He is a fantastic player, but he knows he can't rest on his laurels; not with Dirk Kuyt and Robbie Keane playing so well. He needs games to build up his confidence, but he is clever enough to know he cannot take anything for granted.'

Liverpool No 2 Sammy Lee returns to the scene of his ill-fated spell as manager, with Benitez acknowledging his value to the Anfield club.

'Massive difference': Benitez (right) has praised number two Lee (left)

'Massive difference': Benitez (right) has praised number two Lee (left)

'Sammy knows everything about this club and has made a massive difference to us,' he said.

'He has also given us a few clues about what to expect from Bolton. He could be a No 1 again, if he wanted, but I hope he stays here with me for a long time yet.

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