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).

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Keith Fraser says we should give Isis sympathises free flights to join Isis (AFP)
news
Life and Style
Google celebrates the 126th anniversary of the Eiffel Tower opening its doors to the public for the first time
techGoogle celebrates Paris's iconic landmark, which opened to the public 126 years ago today
News
Cleopatra the tortoise suffers from a painful disease that causes her shell to disintegrate; her new prosthetic one has been custom-made for her using 3D printing technology
newsCleopatra had been suffering from 'pyramiding'
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Coachella and Lollapalooza festivals have both listed the selfie stick devices as “prohibited items”
music
Sport
Nigel Owens was targeted on Twitter because of his sexuality during the Six Nations finale between England and France earlier this month
rugbyReferee Nigel Owens on coming out, and homophobic Twitter abuse
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor