Thigh tear puts Torres in doubt for Mersey derby

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The Independent Online

Fernando Torres, the Liverpool striker, could be a doubt for the Reds' crucial derby against Everton at Goodison Park next Saturday lunchtime after tearing a muscle while on international duty with Spain.

The 23-year-old pulled up in training ahead of the Euro 2008 qualifier against Denmark yesterday and was immediately ruled out of action for eight to 10 days. Spain's team doctor, Genaro Borras, confirmed the problem was a small muscle tear in the striker's right thigh.

The loss of Torres would be a big blow for Liverpool, with the Spaniard having already netted seven times in all competitions so far this season for the Reds.

Torres' Liverpool team-mate, winger Harry Kewell, is closing in on a return to first-team football after a groin injury.

Kewell, 29, picked up the injury while playing for Australia in the Asian Cup in the summer and has not played for Rafael Benitez's side this season.

But Benitez said: "Harry is working really hard and he could be training with the first team [this week]. Harry is very important for us. A player with pace and ability who can score goals is always important."

Kewell played just three times for the Reds last season after chronic injury problems, returning in time for the end of the season and a substitute appearance in the Champions' League final defeat by Milan.

The Australian's contract runs out next summer, and he must prove to Benitez he is worthy of an extension.

Benitez signed Ryan Babel and Yossi Benayoun in the summer to add to the competition for places in midfield, buthe believes Kewell can add something special to the side.

The Spaniard added: "It's clear he's someone with great quality and experience, and we need these kind of players for the rest of the season."

Meanwhile, the Liverpool defender Fabio Aurelio claims the pain of missing out on last season's European Cup final defeat by Milan has made him stronger as he seeks to kickstart his career at Anfield.

The Brazilian full-back missed the closing stages of last season after rupturing his Achilles tendon in the Champions' League quarter-final against PSV.

"Missing out on a potential place in a Champions' League final was a big blow for me," said Aurelio, who was restricted to just 25 games in his debut season due to a series of knocks.

He added: "I can't afford to think about what might have been. You have to leave these things behind. You need to be strong and have patience."

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