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?
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.

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before