Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Liverpool’s Carragher Tips Crouch To Step Up In Torres Absence

Liverpool vice-captain Jamie Carragher has suggested Peter Crouch can step up to the challenge of replacing Reds’ record-signing Fernando Torres, who is out injured for three weeks.

Torres had made an instant impact after his switch to Anfield from Atletico Madrid in the summer. But an adductor injury, first in training for Spain recently, and then in the return to action against Arsenal, have laid him low.

Crouch, who has reportedly revealed his displeasure at not having enough opportunities this season after having been the top-scorer for the Reds last term, took the field in the second half against the Gunners as Torres was injured.

Carragher said in the Liverpool Daily Post: “Unfortunately we have picked up some more injuries. Torres will be a big loss, but Peter Crouch was excellent when he came on.”

Meanwhile Reds boss Rafa Benitez will learn the extent of Xabi Alonso’s metatarsal injury today, as the Spanish midfielder suffered the injury during his comeback against Arsenal after five weeks out with a similar injury.

Torres: I've Found My Mersey Paradise

Fernando Torres insists he has no intention of returning to Spain for a long time, after insisting he feels "comfortable" at Liverpool.

Torres quit Atletico Madrid - the club he had been at since the age of 11 - this summer to move to Anfield in a deal that reportedly cost the Reds a club-record £21million transfer fee.

It was a massive decision for the Spaniard to leave his hometown club, but now he is in England, the 23-year-old admits he cannot see himself going back to Spain at least until his six-year deal with Liverpool runs out.

"I am going to complete my contract with Liverpool at the very least. I am comfortable at this great club. Here you are respected as a great player," he said on Radio Marca.

"You are going to grounds with the feeling that you are going to win. I am not planning to return to Spain, neither now nor for many years.

"The support of the fans has been phenomenal. Here the people see you on the street and they greet you like a friend.

"In the stadia, when you are substituted at a rival ground, the public applauds you. It is certainly a different way of seeing football for me."

Torres, who has scored seven goals in 13 first-team appearances for Liverpool so far, is currently sidelined with an adductor injury he suffered against Arsenal at the weekend and is set to be out for around three weeks.

That could rule him out of Spain's potentially critical European Championship qualifier against Group F leaders Sweden on November 17.

Liverpool Boosted By Harry Kewell Return

Harry Kewell will make his belated return to the Liverpool first team for Wednesday’s Carling Cup clash against Cardiff.

The Australian winger has been sidelined since suffering a groin injury while playing for his country in the Asian Cup over the summer.

However, Kewell made a goalscoring return to action for the reserves at the weekend and now has the chance to prove he has a future on Merseyside following the summer acquisitions of Ryan Babel and Yossi Benayoun.

Liverpool are expected to rest several first-choice players, including goalkeeper Jose Reina, who has branded the injury crisis threatening to overwhelm the club's season as a "pain in the backside."

The Liverpool No 1 was dismayed to see his fellow Spaniards Xabi Alonso and Fernando Torres sidelined after suffering recurrences of existing injuries in Sunday's 1-1 draw with Arsenal, and says the setbacks could hardly have come at a worse time.

Liverpool must beat Besiktas at Anfield next week to survive in the Champions League and they cannot afford to lose any more ground to Arsenal and Manchester United in the Premier League title race.

Reina said: "The injuries are a big problem. We have had far too many in the last few months. Now we have another injury to Fernando and another to Xabi.

"When important players are recovering and coming back into the side and then they get injured again, it is always difficult."

Liverpool are still waiting to hear how long they will be without midfielder Alonso, who has suffered a metatarsal fracture, while Torres is expected to be out for three weeks with a torn adductor muscle.

The only consolation for under-pressure manager Rafael Benitez is that the foot injury suffered by Javier Mascherano on Sunday is not as serious as first feared.

Benitez, however, is already without winger Jermaine Pennant with a stress fracture of the shin, and first-choice centre-back Daniel Agger, who is still recovering from his own broken metatarsal.

The loss of Torres is probably the biggest blow to Benitez, though. The Spaniard had to be withdrawn at half-time on Sunday and Liverpool's cutting edge was significantly reduced as a result.

Peter Crouch is expected to make only his sixth start of the season on Wednesday and the England striker is desperate to make an impact.

He said: "I was pleased to get on against Arsenal, even though it wasn't in the circumstances I would have liked with Fernando getting injured. You always want your best players on the pitch and hopefully he won't be out for too long.

"From my point of view I haven't had too many chances this season and so I have to take them when they come along. It's going to be a long season, we have a big squad and everybody will get games at some point. I just know that whenever I play I have to perform.

"Players are greedy and they want to play every week but it's not possible. We know there could be anything up to 70 matches this season and we understand what the manager is trying to do."