Torres on the bench in Bucharest
Fernando Torres is likely to be on the bench again for the
Europa League last 32 second-leg tie against Unirea Urziceni
on Thursday (6pm).
The Spain international made his comeback against Manchester
City on Sunday after five weeks out with a knee injury which
However, with Liverpool leading 1-0 from last week's tie at
Anfield there is no need to risk the forward from the start
in Bucharest as David Ngog is fit having missed the weekend
game with an ankle injury.
Midfielder Yossi Benayoun is pushing for a place in the
starting line-up having also made his comeback - from a
broken rib - at City.
With Maxi Rodriguez ineligible having already played in
Europe for Atletico Madrid, Benayoun could contest the
left-sided role with Albert Riera.
Defender Sotirios Kyrgiakos, currently serving a domestic
suspension which rules him out of Sunday's match at home to
Blackburn, is available but may remain on the bench as he
did for the first leg.
Reds (from): Reina, Skrtel, Agger, Carragher, Kyrgiakos,
Insua, Gerrard, Lucas, Aquilani, Benayoun, Riera, Ngog,
Kuyt, Torres, Cavalieri, Pacheco, Spearing, Darby, Babel,
Aurelio, Degen, Kelly.
Ngog fit again
David Ngog is fit again.
The French striker missed Sunday's draw with Man City
because of a twisted ankle but has recovered and is in the
squad for tomorrow's Europa League game against Unirea
Babel targets good run for Reds
Liverpool forward Ryan Babel is hoping he can finally start
producing on a consistent basis for the Reds following talks
with Rafa Benitez.
Babel has struggled to make a sustained impact on Merseyside
since joining the club from Ajax in 2007 and was tipped for
a January exit.
He revealed on his Twitter account last month that he had
been dropped from the squad to face Stoke before
subsequently apologising for his actions.
On Sunday, the Dutchman was rewarded with his first start in
the Premier League for three months as he played 75 minutes
of the 0-0 draw at Manchester City.
And, following discussions with Benitez, the 23-year-old
believes he is now aware of what he needs to do in order to
be a success at Liverpool.
"I have had a good talk with the manager and I know what I
have to do," said Babel. "That is what I am going to
"I just have to try to be patient, keep working hard and
doing my best."
Rafa targets Euro success
Rafa Benitez maintains the Europa League is a big part of
his plans for the rest of the season because Liverpool fans
deserve something to celebrate.
With the Reds out of contention for the Premier League
title, out of the UEFA Champions League plus early exits in
the FA Cup and Carling Cup, fans have endured a miserable
To make matters worse, securing their regular involvement in
Europe's premier club competition next season is far from
guaranteed, but finishing third in Group E this term ensured
they at least dropped into the Europa League.
Formerly the Uefa Cup, which Liverpool won under Gerard
Houllier in 2001, the re-named tournament has suffered in
popularity due to the prominence of the Champions League,
but Anfield boss Benitez is taking it seriously.
"When you win a European competition it is always very
important," the Spaniard told Liverpool's official website.
Del Bosque: We have great relations with Rafa
Spain coach Vicente del Bosque insists there is no rift
between himself and Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez over the
use of Fernando Torres.
Torres has just returned from a knee complaint and could be
called up by his country for the squad to play France on
March 3, although Benitez would be keen to see the striker
return fully fit after seeing him previously pick up
injuries while on international duty.
“There’s no truth in the fact that Benitez has complained –
we have great relations with Liverpool,” said Del Bosque at
FIFA’s Team Workshop in Sun City,
“We just want to take care of the player like his club does
and make sure he arrives at the World Cup fully fit.”
Loan deal for defender
Robbie Threlfall has joined Bradford City on loan.
The reserve team left-back has joined the League Two side on
a month's loan and goes straight into their squad for
tonight's game against leaders Rochdale.
Benitez wants caution on Torres
Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez is confident Spain coach Vicente
Del Bosque will be cautious with Fernando Torres if he is
called up to face France.
The sides meet next week in Paris and Torres is expected to
be included in Del Bosque's squad after making a successful
return to action at the weekend following knee surgery.
Torres made a quicker than expected return as a late
substitute in Sunday's goalless draw with Manchester City
after five weeks out with a knee problem.
Benitez is expected to restrict Torres to a bench role for
Thursday's Europa League clash with Unirea Urziceni, with
the striker possibly starting the weekend Premier League
clash with Blackburn.
Manchester City draw a great
result for Liverpool FC
There was loads of negativity surrounding the quality of the
Manchester City v Liverpool game.
But what’s the problem? I certainly don’t see one for
Liverpool in getting
a goalless draw there – in fact, there were some major
positives to emerge from the game for me.
When you avoid defeat against your rivals, you don’t give
a significant advantage.
(Mark Lawrenson - Liverpool Daily Post)
Boss ready for Johnson boost
Rafa Benitez is hoping Glen Johnson will follow Yossi
Benayoun and Fernando Torres back to fitness within the next
Johnson has been missing since tearing the medial ligament
in his right knee during our 1-0 victory at Villa Park on
But with Torres and Benayoun returning from the bench at
Eastlands on Sunday, Benitez is confident all his big names
will soon be available.
"I think we have enough quality, Yossi Benayoun is coming
back, Fernando Torres is coming back, hopefully Glen Johnson
will come back in the next week," said the boss.
"So we are now bringing players back and the competition
will be better for us and hopefully we can improve."
(LFC Official Website)
Benayoun plans to get creative
in race for fourth place
Yossi Benayoun insists Liverpool’s creative players need to
raise their game to wrestle back the initiative in the race
for the Champions League.
Having been sidelined since January 13 with a broken rib,
the Israeli midfielder was thrilled to be back in the thick
of things after coming on as a 63rd-minute substitute for
Despite showing some nice touches and plenty of energy,
Benayoun could not help inspire the Reds, who were held to a
0-0 draw by Manchester City in what was an instantly
“I think the race will go to the end between us, Man City,
Tottenham and Villa. We know where we need to improve.
“We need to create more and do more up front.
“Hopefully the defence will keep playing well. We have got
the best defence in the league. Now we need to create more
and then the goals will come.”
Barry: Too much at stake
Gareth Barry admits Manchester City's 0-0 draw at home to
Liverpool was a game neither of the UEFA Champions League
hopefuls wanted to lose.
Barry concedes City were disappointed not to win the game,
but appeared satisfied to take a point from the encounter
given what was at stake.
"It was one of those games with no real chances," the
midfielder told the club's official website. "There was a
lot at stake and you could tell. We are slightly
disappointed not to win as the home team."
TV lucky to miss out on Liverpool FC
shocker at Manchester City
Perhaps those in charge of programme planning at the two
satellite broadcasters really are blessed with the gift of
being able to see into the future.
When the roster for this weekend’s round of televised
matches was published just after Christmas, eyebrows were
raised that a potentially titanic clash between Manchester
City and Liverpool was missed off the list.
Now we know why those tussles between Wigan and Tottenham,
Blackburn and Bolton, not to mention that blockbuster
between Aston Villa and Burnley, were all deemed fit for
broadcasting ahead of this.
City against Liverpool should have been a contest that
crackled with excitement, a collision when an established
Champions League side had their credentials for fourth spot
sternly examined by an up-and-coming ensemble.
With more than £250m of talent on the pitch, surely it was
not beyond reason to expect someone, somewhere to conjure up
a magic moment that would quicken the pulse and fire a
message of intent in the battle for fourth place?
(Dominic King - Liverpool Echo)