Hodgson: 'Fernando isn't fed up'

Liverpool manager defends star striker as speculation grows about Spaniard's state of mind
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The Independent Football

The Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson has dismissed speculation about Fernando Torres's state of mind after the striker was criticised on his last outing.

The Spaniard is likely to be rested for the Europa League match against Steaua Bucharest at Anfield tonight but Hodgson insists he has no worries about the 26-year-old's attitude towards the game and merely wants to assess the form of other squad players.

Torres had very few chances in Sunday's goalless draw at Birmingham. And despite scoring three times in his previous two matches for club and country, that did not stop theories being advanced about him being unhappy and regretting his decision to remain at Anfield this summer.

The former Liverpool captain Jamie Redknapp labelled Torres's performance at St Andrews "diabolical" and claimed the player looked frustrated, but Hodgson rejected that assessment.

"Fernando certainly isn't fed up," he said. "Criticism is something we have to live with. We bear strong expectations at this club and everyone is interested in us. Of course everything that happens at the club is put under the microscope and that includes players' performances. Fernando has no problem with that. He is an excellent player. He is very much committed and focused on this season.

"I think it is very wrong for people to read someone's state of mind from watching them play 90 minutes of football. You have to be some wonder psychologist to be able to do that. I can't watch a player play and tell you what state of mind he is in."

Despite the manager's backing for Torres, neither he nor captain Steven Gerrard are likely to start against Steaua. As well as using his squad Hodgson will also be mindful of avoiding injuries with a trip to face Manchester United looming on Sunday.

Having learnt his lessons from his run to the Europa League final last season with Fulham, Hodgson is keen to avoid the pitfalls of over-playing people early in the campaign. "It is up to me to choose a team to win the game and possibly give some of the players [who are] needed to play against United a well-deserved break," he said. "I will use the Europa League to get a better knowledge of what our best XI is."