Nunez injures knee in training as Alonso waits in the wings

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Rafael Benitez's Anfield revolution stuttered yesterday when no sooner had he unveiled the new signing Antonio Nunez, than the latest Spanish recruit was injured in his very first training session at his new club.

Rafael Benitez's Anfield revolution stuttered yesterday when no sooner had he unveiled the new signing Antonio Nunez, than the latest Spanish recruit was injured in his very first training session at his new club.

Nunez twisted his left knee and has suspected ligament damage. A scan today is expected to reveal the extent of the problem.

"We are all desperately disappointed for Antonio because this injury has come at such a bad time for him and he is understandably gutted," the Liverpool spokesman Ian Cotton told the club's website.

Just moments after Antonio Nunez was paraded following his arrival from Real Madrid, Benitez claimed that he hopes to finalise Xabi Alonso's move from Real Sociedad before the weekend.

The captures of Nunez and Alonso will take the number of Spanish players at Anfield to three - Malaga's Josemi joined last month - and leaves onlookers in little doubt as to how highly Benitez rates his compatriots.

"I'm very happy because we have signed a good player that balances the team," Benitez said of Nunez. "He is a winger or right midfielder, and can go on the right side of defence, so it gives us more possibilities."

The 25-year-old, rated at £3m, comes to Liverpool as part of the deal which took Michael Owen to the Bernabeu last week, but Benitez insists he was keen to secure Nunez's services regardless.

"When I was at Valencia I was looking for a man like this," he added. "My idea was the same here and we had this opportunity to sign him."

Alonso, who held discussions with Liverpool officials after the draw with Tottenham last weekend, may be in the squad for Saturday's home match against Manchester City if everything goes according to plan.

Liverpool are reported to have had a bid in the region of £10.7m accepted by Sociedad, and the manner in which Benitez spoke suggested there should be few hitches.

"We hope to finish our conversations before the weekend," he said. "It gives us more possibilities to play with [Dietmar] Hamann, to play with [Steven] Gerrard, to play with [Salif] Diao, and it is good for the team because we have a lot of matches."

According to Benitez, the signings of Nunez and Alonso represent something of a tonic for the fans, who have seen Owen follow Emile Heskey and Danny Murphy out of Anfield this summer.

"I'm happy because signing players is good for the squad and good for the supporters," said Benitez, who remains on the look-out for fresh talent.

Although Nunez admitted it was a wrench to leave Madrid, the team he has supported since childhood, he expressed his joy at joining "one of the best teams in the world".

If Liverpool fans were not familiar with Nunez's name before this week, they can have few complaints about Alonso's pedigree. At just 22, the central midfielder has represented his country 11 times - he played twice in the European Championship - scoring one goal.

Meanwhile, the Bolton manager, Sam Allardyce, believes he is still in pole position to sign the Liverpool striker El-Hadji Diouf despite interest from the Italian club Fiorentina. The Senegalese international was at the Reebok Stadium last night to undergo the second part of his medical and Allardyce is confident the player will join.

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