Torres could play early next season

Liverpool are hoping Fernando Torres will be fit to play early this season after learning his latest injury is not as bad as feared.

A scan carried out by the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) has diagnosed the problem that forced the striker to pull up in Sunday's World Cup final as a grade one tear of the left thigh.

That is not as severe as thought when Torres slumped to the ground late in extra time of Spain's victory over Holland in Johannesburg.

A statement on the RFEF website confirmed the details had now been passed on to the Anfield club.

Liverpool medical staff are now meeting the player, who is in his homeland at the start of his summer break, to assess the injury themselves and determine his likely lay-off.

News that Torres, 26, could miss the pre-season campaign is a blow to new manager Roy Hodgson, particularly with a Europa League qualifier to play this month, but he will be pleased his absence is not longer.

Torres was hampered by injuries last season, having a spell out with a groin problem and then having two knee operations.

He was still the club's top goalscorer with 22 but lacked match sharpness throughout the World Cup and endured a disappointing tournament on a personal level.

These recent problems appear to have dampened down speculation linking Torres with a big-money move away from Anfield this summer.

Nevertheless, Hodgson admitted that pictures of Torres celebrating the World Cup triumph wearing a Liverpool scarf have lifted the club.

The former Atletico Madrid star was one of four Liverpool players in the World Cup final squads along with Spanish team-mate Jose Reina and Holland pair Dirk Kuyt and Ryan Babel.

Hodgson told the club's website, www.liverpoolfc.tv: "As Liverpool manager, I take great pride in the fact that two of our players can call themselves World Cup winners this summer.

"I think it's safe to say the pictures of Fernando in the dressing room with the World Cup certainly went down well with our fans but the club can be proud of all the players who went away to the World Cup.

"To have four players reach the final is an incredible achievement and I look forward to working with them when they return to Melwood after their holidays."

The Liverpool players who have already returned for pre-season work step up their preparations today by flying out to a training camp in Switzerland.

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