Hodgson ready to rest Torres in Europe as United game looms

As someone who has scored in each of his last three appearances against Manchester United, the concern about Fernando Torres's form and fitness extends beyond tonight's Europa League opener against Steaua Bucharest.

Just as Sir Alex Ferguson dramatically and ineffectually reshuffled his side before Tuesday's goalless draw with Rangers to keep his squad fresh for Liverpool's arrival at Old Trafford, so Roy Hodgson is likely to regard Steaua as a mere aperitif.

The Liverpool manager was angered by comments that Torres looked punch drunk at Birmingham on Sunday. To Robbie Savage, commentating on radio for the BBC, the Spaniard's body language suggested an "uninterested" footballer. In the Sky camp, Jamie Redknapp, a one-time Liverpool captain, described his display as "diabolical".

Torres is unlikely to face a Steaua side that, whatever their history – Hodgson said during his press conference at Anfield that Steaua had won 44 Romanian trophies – finished fourth in the league. However, Hodgson pointed out that Torres was keen to play and his display at St Andrews had as much to do with being asked to fly to Buenos Aires by the Spanish FA to take part in a friendly against Argentina than anything else.

"I think it is wrong to try to read someone's state of mind after 90 minutes of football," Hodgson said. "You would have to be some wonder psychologist to do that. I have never been able to watch someone play and tell you what state of mind they are in.

"Torres is a front player. They are either heroes or villains. Against West Brom, Torres was a hero. A game later and he is the villain. Pepe Reina was the villain against Arsenal. Against Birmingham he won us a point. Torres is in good mental shape. He'll be happy to play if I want him to play but whether I want him to play is another question."

Hodgson said he would be repeating Ferguson's experiment of withdrawing his leading players for a European night, adding he found it strange that a manager should be criticised more for losing with a reshuffled side than with a team that he stuck with. "It is up to us as managers to make sure decisions are not taken out of fear of what people might say," he said.

Liverpool should back themselves to progress without Torres or Steven Gerrard. Steaua may have reached two European Cup finals but they have struggled to make any impact since the fall of Nicolae Ceausescu, a decline that has accelerated since Gigi Becali became club president. Becali has run through 11 managers in seven years and even once appointed himself.

His latest choice is Ilie Dumitrescu, once of Tottenham, who according to the president asked for one leu (around 20p) to become manager. The details of the severance clause in his contract – something Dumitrescu is likely to require sooner rather than later – was not revealed.

Liverpool (probable 4-2-3-1) Reina; Johnson, Kyrgiakos, Agger, Konchesky; Poulsen, Meireles; Pacheco, Cole, Babel; Ngog.

Steaua Bucharest (probable 4-4-2) Tatarusanu; Emeghara, Abrudan, Geraldo, Latovlevici; Radut, Angelov, Apostol, Tanase; Stancu, Kapetanos.

Referee C Fernandez (Spain).

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
tech
News
The 67P/CG comet as seen from the Philae lander
scienceThe most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Arts and Entertainment
Ian McKellen as Gandalf in The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies
film
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Koenig, creator of popular podcast Serial, which is to be broadcast by the BBC
tvReview: The secret to the programme's success is that it allows its audience to play detective
News
Ruby Wax has previously written about her mental health problems in her book Sane New World
people
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas