Benitez to adopt cautious approach with Torres

LIVERPOOL manager Rafael Benitez is in no hurry to rush striker Fernando Torres back into action against Unirea Urziceni in the Europa League this evening.

The Spaniard made his long-awaited comeback from a knee operation after five weeks out in a 15-minute substitute appearance in Sunday’s goalless draw at Manchester City.

But, with their Barclays Premier League campaign of much more importance than their European exploits – where they hold a 1-0 lead from last week’s first leg at Anfield – Benitez is taking a cautious approach with the 25-year-old. Torres is likely to be on the bench tonight as he is eased back into the action, with a view to starting at home to Blackburn on Sunday.

“We knew we could use him against City. The idea was for 15-20 minutes but still he is not ready,” said Benitez.

“He needs match fitness and has to play and train, and we will see later on how he is coming along.

“We have to be careful because it has been a long time. Now it is a question of one step at a time. You cannot push him too hard because you could lose the player and it is not necessary.

“We will see how he progresses and we will decide each day. He could feature against Unirea. We have to see him training and afterwards see how he is feeling and then we will decide – but he will not start.”

Benitez’s squad is now almost at full fitness as, with David Ngog having recovered from an ankle injury that kept him out at Eastlands, only defender Glen Johnson remains on the sidelines.

However, there is encouraging news about the England right-back, who Benitez believes could begin full training by the end of this week having been out with a knee problem since the victory over Aston Villa at the end of December. “Johnson is very close. I think next week he will be training with the team, or maybe at the end of the week, but it will be the same situation we have with Torres,” said the Liverpool manager.

After a frustrating tie against Unirea at Anfield – when David Ngog scored the only goal – Benitez hopes the fact the hosts have to score will mean his side have more openings.

“We have to believe that the away leg will be different because they will have to attack and that will leave more spaces, and maybe we can create more clear chances,” said the Spaniard.

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