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Liverpool deny trying to delay Torres' debut


Liverpool were aware that Football Association rules did not allow them to seek Fernando Torres' exclusion from the Chelsea side they will face on Sunday, despite suggestions last night that they sought a gentleman's agreement to get him omitted while negotiating the £50m sale.

The striker, whose signature on Monday evening came too late for him to make his debut for Carlo Ancelotti's side at Sunderland last night, has already fuelled the fire ahead of his appearance against his old club by saying in his first interview that he was now at a "top-level club". Liverpool are indignant about any suggestion that they might be running scared of the 26-year-old and were yesterday concentrating on completing Luis Suarez's paperwork in time for him to appear against Stoke City at Anfield tonight.

Liverpool flew Suarez to Ireland, rather than the Netherlands, yesterday to make the completion of work permit and international clearance issues easier, though his place in Kenny Dalglish's starting line-up tonight remains in doubt.

The Liverpool manager, who has Jamie Carragher back in his squad, two months after dislocating a shoulder, revealed the club had been scouting the 24-year-old Uruguayan striker for three years before securing his signature from Ajax for £22.8m. Asked about his qualities, Dalgish said: "You go on YouTube and you get seven minutes of goals. That's not a bad hit. He's fantastic in the dressing room, that's why he was captain of Ajax. For a Uruguayan, and a forward at that, to be captain of Ajax tells you something about the personality.

"We have known about him for three years. When I came back here it was early on that we were looking at him, so when we were talking about players it was pushing at an open door regarding Suarez. He could have gone to other clubs, he had choices of a few places, but he wanted to come here. I think that's important. It's encouraging that there are still players out there who want to play for the club and have a feeling for the club. I don't think that does him any harm either. "

Suarez, who takes the No 7 jersey and who may operate with Steven Gerrard behind him in fellow new signing Andy Carroll's absence with a thigh injury, said yesterday: "First of all I want to try to play as many games as possible and help move us up the table. My ambitions for the future are to do my very best for Liverpool, to try to learn more about English football and to become a champion."

Dalglish has insisted, as he attempts to start delivering a return on his American owners' £57.8m January investment, that the aim of Champions League football has not been "washed from our brains" but accepted that it is a tall order. "It will be a big ask for us to get in the Champions League next season," he said. "But the encouragement we have had from the new owners in the short spell that I have been here, I think this club is going to be pushing upwards and upwards without shouting our mouth off. It is really encouraging."