Stop the injury excuses, Hodgson tells Torres

Roy Hodgson admitted there were lessons to be learned from Liverpool's Carling Cup humbling by Northampton last week but that the main one was to have firepower on the bench.

That, the manager said, was one reason he had taken Fernando Torres to the Netherlands. The other was that the striker can no longer be considered a player feeling his way back from injury. According to Hodgson, there should be no more excuses for Liverpool's most valuable footballer.

"The injury problems are behind him," he said going into this evening's Europa League group match here. "You can't bring those up any more. They were supposedly cleared up before he went to the World Cup but, because he didn't meet up with some people's expectations in South Africa, there were theories. But he was clear of injury over there, and the one he picked up in the final was very minor – and had cleared up before he got back to us for pre-season."

There would ordinarily be no point in flying Torres from Merseyside, where Steven Gerrard has remained as a precaution against a back problem, unless he was going to start in the Galgenwaard Stadium. However, the bitter experience of the Carling Cup lingers: Hodgson selected a bench of academy products, leaving him with no cards to play when Northampton began tearing into his back four in the rain. However, his argument that going out on penalties was not a "football defeat" would cut little ice at a club that won two European Cups in shoot-outs.

"One of the benefits of having Torres here is that when you are drawing or losing to Northampton and you have left all your best players out to prepare, you would like to have them available to change things," said Hodgson. "Maybe that's one of the things I learned from last week – but I learned a lot of things last week." One of the most telling is a realisation that the squad players left him by Rafael Benitez are not good enough.

The Galgenwaard's press room walls carry many reminders of the Dutch title Utrecht celebrated in 1958. In contrast to Liverpool, there has not been much silverware since, although Dirk Kuyt, who started off at Utrecht, said the Dutch Cup he lifted here was more than he had won at Anfield.

Also, this Utrecht are deceptively dangerous – ask Neil Lennon, who watched disbelievingly as his Celtic side were routed in last month's qualifier. Utrecht were also good enough to force a goalless draw with Napoli.

"I wouldn't say Dutch club football is enjoying a renaissance, but it is going through a good period," said Hodgson. "It serves no purpose to bring up the two clubs' respective histories. They are irrelevant. It is Utrecht 2010 versus Liverpool 2010."

Utrecht (probable 4-4-2): Vorm; Cornelisse, Schut, Wuytens, Nesu; Duplan, Lensky, Silberbauer, Mertens; Mulenga, Van Wolfswinkel.

Liverpool (probable: 4-4-2): Reina; Johnson, Carragher, Kyrgiakos, Kelly; Kuyt, Lucas Leiva, Meireles, Cole; Ngog, Torres.

Referee Duarte Gomes (Portugal).

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