Torres denies putting World Cup ahead of Liverpool

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The Independent Online

Striker Fernando Torres has denied putting country before club after having a second knee operation which ended his Liverpool season.

The Spain international had surgery in Barcelona last night to repair damaged cartilage in his right knee, a problem which resurfaced after a similar operation in January.

That ruled him out of Liverpool's remaining four Barclays Premier League matches and their Europa League semi-final against former club Atletico Madrid but a six-week recovery period still gives him a good chance of going to the World Cup in South Africa.

But Torres said safeguarding his international place was not the overriding factor in the decision to operate again.

"It's not true. We exhausted all the possibilities before arriving at the final one," said the 26-year-old.

"There were three options. One was that the meniscus was okay, the second was that the problem was not clear and the third that the meniscus was affected.

"On Friday afternoon in Liverpool the scan I had cleared up the doubts and made us see that I would almost definitely have to have an operation.

"The meniscus was affected and the doctors said they had to operate.

"What's more, the injury happened in the second minute of the game (Europa League quarter-final second leg) against Benfica at Anfield and I played injured for 85 minutes.

"If I had been thinking about the World Cup and Spain I would have asked for a change (substitution).

"It wasn't like that, I wanted to get to the final of the Europa League with my team."

The current restrictions on air travel because of the volcanic ash cloud meant Torres' planned return to Barcelona on Thursday to see specialist Dr Ramon Cugat was delayed until Saturday.

When another flight was cancelled Torres decided to make the arduous road and rail trip with an overnight stop just outside Paris.

"The trip was an adventure. I arrived exhausted at 8.30 on Sunday evening and barely had time to have a shower at the hotel before going to the clinic where Dr Cugat was waiting for me," he said.

"Three hours after I had the meniscus operation."

Torres' injuries have been partly blamed for Liverpool's disappointing campaign, which saw them exit the Champions League and Barclays Premier League title race early and could now also see them miss out on fourth place.

The latest setback means Torres will miss an encounter with former club Atletico Madrid for the second successive season.

It leaves him pinning his hopes on recovering in time to spearhead Spain's bid to add the World Cup to their European title.

"It is true this season has been complicated by injuries. It's been difficult and a shame I've not been able to play more games and score more goals," Torres told his website, www.fernando9torres.com.

"We (Liverpool) tried for it to be perfect but it hasn't been like that and the only thing now is to think about the prize of being in South Africa.

"I need to be positive and think there is the World Cup to come, which is now the most important.

"You wait four years for it and if things go well I don't intend to miss it.

"Today I start to work."

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