Hodgson is hopeful Fernando Torres will
not receive a call-up for Spain following the striker's
sensational winner in the 1-0 win over West Brom.
The Reds boss was delighted with the No.9's contribution
after his volley not only secured the first league victory
of his tenure, but also saw him net a landmark 50th goal in
all-competitions at Anfield.
However, the boss warned that the forward will only continue
his improvement if he remains at Melwood to maintain his
"I think you could see from the first-half - he's trying
very hard at the moment. He's playing catch up like I have
said before," Hodgson told his post match press conference.
"He started his pre-season late and had to nurse his knee
through a World Cup, but the goal will be great for his
"We are hoping Spain will pass up on his services and give
him the chance to continue his recovery and 'pre-season'.
"He needs more training and more matches and you won't see
the best of him until further down the road.
"It would be good if Del Bosque would look kindly on him and
us. There's no doubt that he would prosper from two weeks of
quite hard training here - continuing his pre-season work
really. If he goes there and plays matches, it is quite a
different type of training and preparation. It's not really
what he requires at this moment in time.
"Also we want to keep an eye on the knee that caused him
problems before and throughout the World Cup.
"We will be happy if this is what happens but we can't say
his isn't fit to play matches because he played 85 minutes
"He wasn't firing on all cylinders and went to the World
Cup. He wasn't at his best during that time or during the
World Cup. Being careful with him is an absolute necessity.
If we can keep him on this fitness programme, he will get
stronger and fitter and then it's just down to match
"The more work our Sport science people can do with him to
build him up, the better it will be for his long-term
future. If we are unable to do that because he is asked to
play so many matches in this early part, it's going to
affect us negatively."
He added: "I'm due to speak to someone from Spain after this
conference. We can only propose that this is the best option
for the player. But we don't have the right to pull him
Torres' winner came after West Brom had more than matched
the Reds in what was a keenly contested encounter of few
Hodgson believes being able to call upon players of El
Nino's quality are what mark the best team apart in the
Barclays Premier League and expects more of the same from
the striker in the months ahead.
"That is the difference," he said. "The Barclays Premier
League is such that most teams have good players, are well
organised and can cause problems for their opponents.
"Often the difference is a piece of magic that breaks the
deadlock and changes the rhythm of the game. If we are going
to have a good season it will be because people like Torres
and Gerrard will do things that not all players in the
league can do."
The win saw Hodgson notch up his first success in the league
at the third time of asking.
The boss admitted he was pleased to be off the mark and
praised the move that led to the winning goal.
"It was hard fought, especially in the first-half because we
weren't firing on all cylinders and they were playing very
well," he said.
"They caused us problems. But I thought we had a much better
second half and got the points thanks to a world class
strike. It was an excellent piece of play. It started with
Pepe's throw. Then there was the build-up down the left with
Dirk Kuyt, who played it into Fernando for him to finish it
with the volley.
"It was a good goal to win the game. I thought we could have
had a second because Steven Gerrard produced a piece of
magic for Fernando at the far post, but Carson was equal to
"All in all, it was a very good three points against a good
Barclays Premier League team in West Bromwich Albion."
Asked if Torres had picked up a new injury following the
84th minute challenge that saw Baggies midfielder James
Morrison receive a straight red card, the boss said: "I
don't know how bad it is. He took a kick. It's not a muscle
injury, but it was a nasty kick as everyone saw.
"The medical team were looking at it but I think his shin
guard may have saved him there.
"I was a long way from the incident and there were a lot of
people around the ball. It looked like a wild challenge to
me from my position on the bench. I wouldn't want to
pontificate as to whether it was or wasn't (a red card) -
suffice to say the referee thought it was and that is good
enough for me."
Fernando Torres underlined his quality and
importance to Liverpool with a brilliant strike to see off
10-man West Brom 1-0 at Anfield.
Two knee operations at the back-end of last season and a
late return from the World Cup have impacted on the
26-year-old's fitness and match sharpness.
But a clinical strike midway through the second half - his
first Premier League goal since March 28 and 50th at Anfield
in all competitions - proved too good for promoted West
Torres was rested for the midweek Europa League play-off
trip to Trabzonspor and the decision was justified with
victory in Turkey without him and, more importantly,
rewarded with the winning goal against the Baggies.
He had not scored in 10 matches for club and country coming
into this game as he has been working his way back to
fitness but even a 75% fit Torres provides a threat for
Torres had three half-chances in the opening 45 minutes but
none could have been classed a genuine opportunity.
His first in only the third minute was curled straight into
the arms of former Liverpool goalkeeper Scott Carson before
a close-range strike was then crowded out at the near post.
His third sight of goal, in the 15th minute, was an
indicator of where the Spain international is in terms of
Martin Skrtel's header sent Milan Jovanovic charging down
the centre of the pitch but Torres was half-a-yard short in
reaching the pass as a sliding Gabriel Tamas cleared the
Liverpool dominated possession but there were a couple of
occasions when West Brom threatened to make them pay.
Marc-Antoine Fortune, making his first appearance for the
club since he returned from Celtic, fired in a low shot
which goalkeeper Jose Reina collected at the second attempt
while late in the half James Morrison sliced a long-range
shot just wide.
New signing Raul Meireles, given the number four shirt
vacated by Alberto Aquilani's loan to Juventus, would have
been hugely underwhelmed by what he saw.
It is doubtful, though, whether the display would have been
enough to have had left-back Paul Konchesky, also watching
from the stands, reconsidering whether to complete on his
move from Fulham in the next 24 hours.
Four minutes after the interval Steven Gerrard controlled
the ball on his chest before attempting a speculative
40-yard volley which dropped harmlessly wide of Carson's
West Brom midfielder was off-target with two long-range
efforts while the closest Liverpool came to scoring was when
Martin Skrtel hooked a half-cleared Torres cross narrowly
wide of the right-hand post.
That was until Baggies defender Jonas Olsson almost gifted
them a goal when he attempted to roll Tamas' pass back to
Carson but sent it past the far upright.
The goal eventually came in the 65th minute when Torres
combined with Dirk Kuyt down the left and when his team-mate
returned the ball to the edge of the penalty area the Spain
striker expertly shifted his position to volley into the
turf and past Carson.
Seven minutes later he almost had his second when he
side-footed Gerrard's far-post cross straight at Carson.
Eight minutes from time he was denied again when Kuyt and
Gerrard worked the ball across the top of the penalty area
only for the Spaniard's strike to be charged down by Gonzalo
Jara with the aid of an arm - unseen by referee Lee Probert.
However, the referee did spot Morrison's lunge at Torres and
responded with a straight red card.
Torres departed after another 89-minute work-out safe in the
knowledge he is gradually edging closer to his prolific best
and Liverpool had secured their 2000th league victory.