Fernando Torres U-turn decision was justified says Roy Hodgson

Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson felt he was fully justified in keeping striker Fernando Torres on the bench for the duration of last night's Europa League goalless draw at home to Utrecht.

The match was a dead rubber, with the Reds already qualified for the last 32 as group winners, but Hodgson had initially planned to give the Spain international a 45-minute run-out.

However, he was persuaded otherwise by his medical staff and Torres watched the entire game from the bench, briefly getting up to do a warm-up midway through the first half.

Because of a clash with a third round FA Youth Cup tie Hodgson had few options to bring in reserves to take the Spaniard's place.

But the manager felt it was important for some of his first-choice players to be present, even though their replacements struggled to rise above the mediocrity against the Dutch.

"To be honest, one of the reasons we put Fernando on the bench was because we didn't have anyone else because they had all gone with the youth team," admitted Hodgson.

"Anyway, I wanted those players on the bench because I've not asked a lot of those players; the likes of Raul Meireles, Glen Johnson, Torres and Steven Gerrard.

"We have played these (Europa League) matches and I've not asked them to come with us but for the home games we have tried to involve them a lot more.

"I think it is important. We are a squad of players. It is important for Joe Cole, Milan Jovanovic, and Fabio Aurelio (who all started last night) that there are people around.

"If you say all the time 'You lads don't have to be there' you start dividing the squad.

"I don't think it was wrong to have the people around there but I always went into the game thinking I would only use them if it was absolutely necessary."

Goalkeeper Jose Reina did not even make the squad despite Hodgson claiming on Tuesday that the Spain international always wanted to play.

However, there were mitigating circumstances last night and the 28-year-old was happy on this occasion to stand aside.

"He helped me because he did say, after the Steaua game, he would give Brad Jones a chance," said Hodgson.

"Then we found out the Australia national coach was coming to the game so it was not difficult with him because he realised it was a chance for Brad.

"The thing about Pepe is he just loves to play and you have to put the brakes on him but he made it very easy for us."

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