Benitez backs under fire Gerrard to rediscover best form

LIVERPOOL manager Rafael Benitez is confident striker Fernando Torres can seal his place in the club’s record books and has backed skipper Steven Gerrard to rediscover his fitness and form.

Torres will be aiming to score in his ninth successive home league match for the club when the Reds face Middlesbrough in the Barclays Premier League side at Anfield today.

If the Spain international is able to find the net against Gareth Southgate’s side he will break a record set by Roger Hunt back in the 1961/62 season.

Gerrard meanwhile was criticised by England boss Fabio Capello – who used the midfielder in a controversial left-sided role in the disappointing draw with the Czech Republic – for not being fit enough, but Benitez expects him to return to his best in the near future.

Benitez said: “We hope Fernando can create his piece of club history, and then maybe more in the future.

“Steven has had two injuries, he was 10-15 days without training, and then it happened again.

“Clearly in a couple of weeks he will be back to his best. He has needed time to get fit after his injuries and it has been important to protect him.

“Steven has great game intelligence, and he can play anywhere. Gerrard played with intelligence and England drew, that is all I would want to say about it.’’

Benitez now hopes a summer of discontent amongst Liverpool’s hierarchy can be consigned to history.

He has admitted there were ‘clear the air’ talks with chief executive Rick Parry this week after acrimony over the proposed transfer of Aston Villa midfielder Gareth Barry.

“We talked about the players that we have, how to progress, and we both know it is important for the club that we work together,” Benitez explained.

“We are working really hard, we are moving in the right direction and hopefully we can do something positive in the next few days.

“The talks were positive, we cannot discuss names but we are now both working to improve our squad.

“There was no friction, but some personal problems. Now things are more clear and that is positive.”

Benitez also admitted there had been no further developments on a deal for Barry with the transfer window set to close shortly.

He continued: “I have had no word about Arsenal wanting Gareth Barry, and that is all I want to say on the subject. Other than that we are working towards improving our squad.

“Likewise there has been nothing more on Xabi Alonso. At the beginning of the summer we were looking at ways of raising money, but now we are happy with Xabi, he is a very good player. The offer we had was not good enough, so why would we want to sell him?”

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