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).

Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
Arts and Entertainment
The sight of a bucking bronco in the shape of a pink penis was too much for Hollywood actor and gay rights supporter Martin Sheen, prompting him to boycott a scene in the TV series Grace and Frankie
footballShirt then goes on sale on Gumtree
Terry Sue-Patt as Benny in the BBC children’s soap ‘Grange Hill’
voicesGrace Dent on Grange Hill and Terry Sue-Patt
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
Arts and Entertainment
Twin Peaks stars Joan Chen, Michael Ontkean, Kyle Maclachlan and Piper Laurie
tvName confirmed for third series
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine