Fernando Torres had a tummy bug against Swansea City, says Rafael Benitez

Chelsea manager backs misfiring striker but Ba is expected to start against Stoke today

The listless and much-criticised performance by Fernando Torres on Wednesday was due to a stomach bug, manager Rafael Benitez explained last night.

Torres was noticeably off the pace during the home defeat to Swansea City in the Capital One Cup and received unprecedented abuse from the home support when he was substituted for new signing Demba Ba.

Benitez, though, praised Torres for playing through illness, and predicted that the Chelsea fans would "love him again".

"Fernando has a stomach bug and had to play on Wednesday," Benitez said. "Fernando was playing with this problem. He is a professional trying to do his best in a difficult situation. I am really pleased with his attitude. He tried to play with a problem. He put in an effort for the team.

"[Torres] is feeling better but still has some problems. He has had a problem for a week or more. He was trying. The other day he was sick on the bench. That was why he didn't play at Southampton. He was there and making an effort just in case."

Chelsea fans directed more hostility than heard before towards Torres on Wednesday, but Benitez said the £50 million striker had improved since his appointment last month and predicted the Spaniard would be popular again.

"He was scoring goals and doing better," Benitez said. "We only had Torres [to play up front] so he was doing a massive effort for the team. He was criticised but was working so hard in difficult circumstances.

"The fans loved Torres when he was scoring and giving everything. They will love him again when he starts scoring the goals again. They will appreciate the effort."

As for a report that Torres had said he wanted to return to Liverpool, where he performed so well under Benitez, the Chelsea interim manager again defended the striker.

"When a player has these problems and is trying to give his best that is enough. Every session I have seen him trying his best. He is giving 100 per cent every training session. The main thing is to concentrate on your job. Fernando is concentrated and trying to do that. It is the sign of a great character."

On Wednesday Torres and Benitez had to listen to the majority of Chelsea fans calling for Ba to be brought on, though a slight hamstring problem kept the new signing from Newcastle on the bench until the 81st minute. But Ba is expected to start today at Stoke.

"If he is fine, it is an option," Benitez said of Ba. "He was great in the first game [at Southampton] but we knew the problems and had to manage him."

John Terry is close to being available for the starting XI again after being out for nine weeks with a knee injury. Chelsea's captain played on Thursday for the Under-21s and may make the bench this afternoon.

"He played yesterday and he is okay," Benitez said. "He has been training today and he is on the list, fingers crossed. He cannot start yet but he is available. It is always important to have someone who has character, he is an important player for us."

Benitez has told Branislav Ivanovic not to be down-hearted after the defender's two mistakes in the defeat to Swansea. "The first thing I did was make clear that I was not worried about the player making a mistake, only those not trying to do things the right way," Benitez said. "He knows he made mistakes but he tried to do his best. He is quite emotional. Mistakes affect him maybe too much. Which is why I said I would not be blaming him."

Goalkeeper Petr Cech will have a fitness test before today's game.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Teeth should be brushed twice a day to prevent tooth decay
education
News
Bryan Cranston as Walter White, in the acclaimed series 'Breaking Bad'
news
Sport
footballChelsea 6 Maribor 0: Blues warm up for Premier League showdown with stroll in Champions League - but Mourinho is short of strikers
News
Those who were encouraged to walk in a happy manner remembered less negative words
science
Arts and Entertainment
Princess Olga in 'You Can't Get the Staff'
tvReview: The anachronistic aristocrats, it seemed, were just happy to have some attention
News
Renee Zellweger as Bridget Jones
i100
Life and Style
tech

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

News
There have been various incidents of social media users inadvertently flouting the law
news

Life and Style
Stack ‘em high?: quantity doesn’t always trump quality, as Friends of the Earth can testify
techThe proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
News
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
i100
Sport
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty
footballCSKA Moscow 2 Manchester City 2: Premier League champions let two goal lead slip in Russia
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London