Hodgson fears United will target Torres

LIVERPOOL manager Roy Hodgson has admitted Wayne Rooney’s desire to leave Manchester United could mean his star striker Fernando Torres is targeted by their arch-rivals.

But while he said he accepted there was always a chance the Reds could lose players like the Spain international, he was determined to keep Torres.

Rooney’s intention to leave United has already sparked speculation about who Alex Ferguson would line up to replace him.

Chelsea were heavily linked with a bid for Torres in the summer which never materialised but Rooney’s situation has already sparked rumours about Torres. The striker, with only one goal to his name, has cut a sorry and frustrated figure this season.

“I think I’d have to say we’d cross that bridge when we come to it,” said Hodgson when asked about the threat of United possibly trying to sign Torres. “I am pretty sure when a great player like Wayne Rooney is looking to leave his club, Manchester United will be in a position to target an awful lot of players around the world.

“I don’t think Fernando Torres would be the only player they will be targeting or (we would be) the only club worried their star striker is going to be a target.

“They will have the opportunity to replace him with many star strikers around the world, so all I can say is I am not naive to the situation.

“I can only hope we won’t and I will make certain I do everything in my power to keep him happy at the club, help him improve his current form and to get him playing for Liverpool as he has in the past.”

The Liverpool manager also insists he does not feel his position is under any greater threat now Christian Purslow, the man who helped appoint him, has left his role as managing director.

Purslow, who arrived in June 2009 tasked with finding new investment and then a new owner, announced yesterday he was standing down from his position.

Hodgson was asked whether he thought the departure of Purslow – seen as one of his key allies – would affect his own position, which has come under increasing scrutiny after a run of one win in eight matches left his side 19th in the Barclays Premier League.

“Not that I know,” was his response.

“But the fact is that is not a question for me to answer. I had no idea Christian was going to leave the club and I have no opinion on the subject.”

Hodgson was also forced to defend his squad selection ahead of this evening’s tough Europa League Group K clash against Napoli in the Stadio San Paolo.

He has chosen to rest Torres, Steven Gerrard, Raul Meireles and Lucas Leiva, while he is also without Glen Johnson (hamstring), Daniel Agger (illness) and Dirk Kuyt (ankle).

The 63-year-old admitted his decision was coloured by the fact the team were in desperate need of a win against Blackburn in the Premier League on Sunday. “When it comes to Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres – two important players – we have an important league game on Sunday,” Hodgson explained. “For me it was, quite simply, a priority.”

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