Benitez stays upbeat after Johnson rues 'awful' run

Manager claims misfiring side are 'playing better' as new injuries add to crisis

Liverpool began the process of regrouping yesterday amid a mounting sense of crisis at Anfield. Monday night's fortunate draw with Birmingham saw two more players added to a rapidly expanding injury list and left manager Rafael Benitez calling for "realism" and Glen Johnson describing recent events as "awful." Rarely can an international break have been more welcome.

It is now one win in nine games for Liverpool but Benitez insists his side are "playing better" and just need a bit of "luck", although the penalty that a flying David Ngog won against Birmingham might be construed by many as a turn of fortune. Albert Riera and Yossi Benayoun both suffered hamstring injuries on Monday, while Benitez has heeded the advice of doctors in Valencia by deciding that Fernando Torres, who was not used, will now need three weeks of complete rest. That means he is unlikely to be fit for Manchester City's visit to Anfield on 21 November.

"We have to be realistic and think what our target is now," Benitez said. "For me it is just the next game, the next point to see whether we can climb a little higher in the table. Then you never know what can happen. We did win six games in a row, if we did that again everything would be different.

"The main thing now is to get players fit, and see who we have available for the next game after the international break. We are talking of two or three weeks out now for Fernando. The hamstrings for Riera and Benayoun could be the same and [Daniel] Agger has more problems with his back. He has worked hard in training, and we felt he would be OK for the match. But you could see that he was not right. Steven Gerrard looked OK after his groin problems, physically he was fine. We will have to see how the injury reacts but he brought us quality and passion, and I hope that we can now manage his problems better."

One of Benitez's favourite topics this season has been of the big clubs losing more matches, which would allow Liverpool to keep in contact despite their poor form. The Spaniard added: "People keep discussing our bad run, but previously we won six on the trot and we have beaten Manchester United. It is a question of keeping going. I would be really worried if we were not playing well and not winning. But I can see that we are beginning to play better, it is a question of luck now. Maybe people think that I am angry about all this. But when I see the players working so hard, trying to change our situation, there is nothing more to say to them, they are doing all they can."

Johnson, one of Liverpool's better players on Monday, said: "The record sounds awful and it is awful for a club like Liverpool. But things like this happen in football. You stick together and keep fighting. We have seen in the league that everyone can beat everyone; if someone had told you at the start of the season that we'd win one in nine, you'd have laughed your head off.

The first time in 10 years."

Manchester City's Pablo Zabaleta said last night that Mark Hughes' side are ready to capitalise on Liverpool's poor form and were among several challengers with the capability to take a top four spot from them. "They are not playing well and they have had injuries," Zabaleta said, with Liverpool a point behind City in eighth place, having played a game more. "We have only lost one game and Liverpool have lost five." City are hardly in full flow themselves after five successive draws but Zabaleta said they are savouring the lunchtime match on Sunday week which has much resting on it for both sides. "After a lot of draws it's sometimes better to play a big team. In an odd way it can be easier," he said.

City are not the only side with pretensions on Liverpool's place among the elite, he added. "Any club – such as Liverpool or Spurs – want to play in the top four. It's a long season and all the games are difficult." The Argentine is aware from his conversations with Liverpool compatriots Javier Mascherano and Emiliano Insua of the expectations at Anfield. "They feel the pressure," Zabaleta said.

Out of action: Liverpool's absences

Upcoming fixtures:

Manchester City (h) 21 November

Debrecen (a) 24 November

Everton (a) 29 November

Injury List:

Albert Riera and Yossi Benayoun Both limped out of the draw with Birmingham with hamstring injuries that will sideline them for a minimum of three weeks.

Fernando Torres Has started treatment on hernia problem to avoid surgery, will be out for three weeks working with physios.

Steven Gerrard Hopeful of returning to full fitness by resting groin during international break.

Daniel Agger Recurrence of back injury has forced the defender out of Denmark squad this week.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Teeth should be brushed twice a day to prevent tooth decay
Bryan Cranston as Walter White, in the acclaimed series 'Breaking Bad'
footballChelsea 6 Maribor 0: Blues warm up for Premier League showdown with stroll in Champions League - but Mourinho is short of strikers
Those who were encouraged to walk in a happy manner remembered less negative words
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
Renee Zellweger as Bridget Jones
Life and Style

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

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

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?
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
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

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