Hodgson says Torres may not start

LIVERPOOL manager Roy Hodgson will not guarantee striker Fernando Torres a starting place in the Europa League against Utrecht but admits his presence in the squad is something of an insurance policy (3e, 7.30pm).

The Spain international has not featured in Europe this season – sitting out the four qualifying matches and one Group K encounter – but travelled to Holland with a virtually-full strength squad.

Only Steven Gerrard, who is being rested, and Daniel Agger, who has had an MRI scan on a groin problem which has not responded to treatment, missed the trip.

But Hodgson said it should not be assumed Torres would automatically take his place up front but revealed he had learned a harsh lesson after the Carling Cup exit to League Two side Northampton.

A week ago the Reds boss gave his first-choice side the night off but then saw a second-string lose on penalties.

Hodgson admitted that, in hindsight, it would have been worth having some quality players in reserve – hence the presence of Torres and most of the first team.

“The mere fact he is here does not mean he will be in the starting XI,” said the 62-year-old.

“When you are playing against Northampton and it is 1-1, and you are not playing very well, you are desperate to change the game.

“You look around you and realise you have given all the quality players time off to prepare for the game on Saturday and you would like desperately to bring on maybe one of those players.”


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