Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Benitez: Torres Making Good Progress, As Are The Rest

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez provided an update on his stricken stars, whilst also revealing that Fernando Torres is making good progress in his aim to get back to fitness for Saturday’s Merseyside derby.

The £23m pound Spanish striker is currently working with the Reds medical team after suffering an adductor injury whilst with the national side, which effectively ruled him out of Spain’s Euro 2008 qualifier win over Denmark last weekend.

"He is much better and improving," said Benitez today.

"At the moment though it is too early to say anything about the weekend.

"It's always a risk when a player has an injury and we have to be careful. He is back with us now and working with the physios."

Benitez also delivered positive injury bulletins for both Dirk Kuyt and Harry Kewell as they both set their sights on a place in the squad this weekend.

"Dirk did the warm-up this morning with us and hopefully he'll be okay for the Everton game.

"The news with Harry is very positive as he did the warm up as well. For him, though, it's too early to talk about the weekend."

Metatarsal victims Xabi Alonso and Daniel Agger are also continuing their recoveries, with Alonso able to do some light running this morning and Agger working in the gym.

Alonso Relishing Merseyside Derby

The Merseyside derby is one of the keenest fought derbies in Premiership football and Xabi Alonso feels Liverpool’s foreign contingent are just as motivated to get a positive result as his Scouse team mates, in this, the 206th meeting of two historic clubs.

Manager Rafael Benitez has brought many foreign payers to Anfield during his reign, but Spanish midfield intenational, Xabi Alonso, feels the importance of the derby is not lost on Liverpool’s foreign contingent.

The midfielder is a doubt for the game, as he is recovering from a metatarsal injury but recognises the importance of the rivalry to the fans.

He told "I don't know how you would compare who feels what, but the foreign lads always know it's a special game.

"You pick up on the atmosphere when you're out and about, of course. Everyone on both sides can't wait for kick-off – it's a really big day for the city.

"We know how much it means to the people. They have family who might support the other team and they talk about it.

"The excitement is the same amongst the players. I'm looking forward to it, though of course this week it's different because the whole squad is not here. We'll only have two days together as a squad.

"But it's against the other team from this city, and for the fans it means a lot. I don't know if it means more for the local lads than the foreign players, but I'm pretty sure we'll be as committed as them."

Liverpool need a victory to keep their league title aspirations alive, in what is an important month for the club, as they face Besitkas in the Champions League next week followed by the visit of league leaders Arsenal, to Anfield.

Liverpool Boss Rafa Benitez Declares Reds Striker Peter Crouch Is Not For Sale

Striker Peter Crouch, who is reportedly unhappy not to be playing regularly due to the rotation policy being followed at Anfield, will not be sold, declared Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez.

Amidst speculations over the England striker’s future since summer with the likes of Fernando Torres and Andriy Voronin joining the Reds, reports suggested that Newcastle United, Manchester City and Portsmouth are interested in the former Southampton hit-man.

Benitez said in the Liverpool Echo: “People have been talking about Peter Crouch for two months, but he is our player and we don’t want to sell him.

“He is a nice boy, a good professional, a good player.

“It is clear that this team now with four strikers creates more competition for places, but I don’t have any problems because Crouch is a good player.”

Crouch was the top-scorer for the Reds last season but has started just one Premiership game this season, as Benitez has largely used the combination from Torres, Dirk Kuyt and Voronin.

Meanwhile, Rafa Benitez has disclosed his excitement at looking at all sorts of combinations between four of his strikers and finding that all – Fernando Torres, Dirk Kuyt, Andriy Voronin and Peter Crouch – are “equal.”

The Reds have been perched atop the Premiership table for the first time in five years with eleven goals scored in their opening four games.

As such, the Merseysiders have got off to a bright start that they were eyeing in this sesaon’s top-flight competition, which they haven’t won for last 17 years.

"The understanding between Torres and Kuyt is fine, but then when it was Kuyt and Voronin that was good also. It is the same when Crouch is playing with Torres, Voronin or Kuyt, I am pleased with all the combinations,” claimed Benitez.

"All of them know what we want, their movement is good and I am sure it will improve even more over the coming weeks.

"Now we have four players with quality and different skills. I can now manage in a different way because you know all of them can score goals.

"You cannot say that Torres will score more goals that Kuyt, Voronin or Crouch. They can all score and they are all equal.”