Torres returns to Liverpool match squad

Striker Fernando Torres has made a surprise return to the Liverpool substitutes bench for their crunch clash against Champions League-chasing rivals Manchester City at Eastlands today.

Striker Fernando Torres has made a surprise return to the Liverpool substitutes bench for their crunch clash against Champions League-chasing rivals Manchester City at Eastlands today.

The Spain international has not featured in the squad since sustaining a knee injury in the FA Cup fourth-round defeat at home to Reading on January 13 which subsequently required surgery.

He was expected to be out for at least six weeks after his operation but has returned ahead of schedule to give Liverpool a significant boost in their bid to secure a top-four place in the Premier League.

There are four changes to the starting line-up which beat Unirea Urziceni on Thursday, with Ryan Babel, Maxi Rodriguez, Lucas Leiva and Emiliano Insua all returning at the expense of Fabio Aurelio, Alberto Aquilani, Albert Riera and goalscorer David Ngog – who has been left out of the squad completely.

City forward Craig Bellamy, who has been carrying a knee injury, is named on the bench after his reported training ground bust-up with manager Roberto Mancini, who has made six changes from the midweek draw with Stoke.

Three of the back four are changed as Pablo Zabaleta, Vincent Kompany and Wayne Bridge all came in with Adam Johnson, Stephen Ireland and Shaun Wright-Phillips – on his 200th Premier League appearance for City – also returning.

Man City: Given, Zabaleta, Kompany, Lescott, Bridge, Wright-Phillips, Ireland, De Jong, Barry, Adam Johnson, Adebayor.

Subs: Taylor, Richards, Santa Cruz, Sylvinho, Toure, Bellamy, Ibrahim.

Liverpool: Reina, Carragher, Skrtel, Agger, Insua, Mascherano, Lucas, Maxi, Gerrard, Babel, Kuyt.

Subs: Cavalieri, Aquilani, Torres, Riera, Aurelio, Benayoun, Kelly.

Referee: Peter Walton.

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