Tired Torres leaves Benitez short of options

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The Independent Football

Rafael Benitez has contributed to his baffling decision to sell Robbie Keane back to Tottenham Hotspur by admitting that Fernando Torres is suffering from tiredness, casting serious doubt on his participation in today's Premier League game at Portsmouth.

Many Liverpool supporters have spent the week trying to fathom why the manager allowed Keane to leave Anfield for White Hart Lane. Now they will be even more confused given Benitez's admission that Torres, his side's most influential player and talisman now Steven Gerrard has been ruled out for three weeks with a torn hamstring, is struggling for fitness and feeling lethargic.

Benitez is contemplating leaving Torres out of his starting line-up at Fratton Park, but his attacking options appear limited without him, making his decision to release Keane even more baffling given what is at stake for Liverpool on domestic and European fronts.

Torres has been included in the Spain squad for next week's international friendly with England. Benitez has sent a dossier on Torres's health to Spain's fitness specialist Javier Minano, a former colleague of his at Real Madrid, in the hope that the striker will be used sparingly.

Benitez, who also revealed most of his other players were feeling the effects of a demanding week – music to the ears of Sir Alex Ferguson – said: "He's fit but tired. We will see if he's ready for Saturday. When you have some players playing a lot of games in a row it's difficult for them to manage. You have to rest players and if you can't it's a big risk.

"We will talk to him in training and see how he feels. All the players are a little bit tired so we have to make decisions for the next game and Torres will be one of the big decisions. If I asked him he would want to play, but it will be our decision. He needs to train more than play to improve his physical condition. We have sent some information on all the [Spanish] players to the Spanish fitness people and they will make a sensible decision. We have a good relationship. We have given them all the information and they will decide, but I think they will make a good decision."

Benitez, who also has doubts over the fitness of Xabi Alonso who has an ankle injury, is desperate for a victory that will turn the screw on Tony Adams, but admits his Portsmouth counterpart has the makings of a successful manager. He added: "He's doing a good job. It's not easy but I think he's got some good qualities. Maybe he needs more time but his experience as a player will help him cope with the pressure."

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