Premier League

Torres not a certain starter - Hodgson

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29/09/2010 19:37 +0100

The Spain international has not featured in Europe this season - sitting out the four qualifying matches and one Group K encounter - but travelled to Holland with a virtually-full strength squad. Only Steven Gerrard, who is being rested, and Daniel Agger, who has had an MRI scan on a groin problem which has not responded to treatment, missed the trip. But Hodgson said it should not be assumed Torres would automatically take his place up front but revealed he had learned a harsh lesson after the Carling Cup exit to League Two side Northampton. A week ago the Reds boss gave his first-choice side the night off but then saw a second-string lose on penalties. Hodgson admitted that, in hindsight, it would have been worth having some quality players in reserve - hence the presence of Torres and most of the first team. "The mere fact he is here does not mean he will be in the starting XI," said the 62-year-old. "When you are playing against Northampton and it is 1-1 and you are not playing very well you are desperate to change the game. "You look around you and realise you have given all the quality players time off to prepare for the game on Saturday and you would like desperately to bring on maybe one of those players - that is one of the things that has affected my thinking." Torres has scored just once so far this campaign, the winner against West Brom, but had a superb volley ruled out against Sunderland at the weekend and has provided the assist for Liverpool's last four league matches. Hodgson believes the 26-year-old is now ready to hit top form having put his injury problems behind him. "He is getting better and better. He has been behind our last four goals in the league," he said. "Those assists will help his confidence. I've said all along for him it is a matter of time and a matter of games and it is nice to see him coming back to the form and the kind of player he is. "I think the injury problems are behind him. I don't think we can consistently bring up injury problems. "They were supposedly cleared up when he went to the World Cup but because he didn't meet expectations there were suggestions it was because of injuries. "But he has been recovered from the actual injury which kept him out of the end of last season since the start of the World Cup and the injury picked up in the final was very minor and had cleared up by the time he came back for pre-season training. "He scored a wonderful goal at the weekend which was ruled out for offside, for me very controversially, so I don't think there is anything wrong with his confidence. "Everyone knows that for people who live on the reputation of being goalscorers, when goals dry up their confidence takes a bit of a knock. "But the one thing you know about proven, quality goalscorers is that it will come again. "The other thing we all know is that every goalscorer will go through a barren period. "Who knows, tomorrow night might be good for that but I'm pretty sure Utrecht might have something to say about that because I don't think they will make him easy for him." Hodgson also dismissed suggestions there were any injury concerns about Gerrard, who has scored three of Liverpool's last four goals in the Barclays Premier League. "We decided we would spare him because if he is playing three games in a week we might lose him for a longer period," he said. "Luckily in central midfield I have plenty of options so it was a possibility not to use him in this game, which we think will serve us in good stead in the future. "He suffers from back pain and we didn't want to exaggerate that by playing him Thursday and Sunday. "If this had been a decisive game in the group and we needed a positive result to get us through he would have played. "Gerrard's fitness is the least of my concerns." Liverpool's medical staff have discussed the possibility of Gerrard having an injection to ease any issues with his back, with Hodgson suggesting in his pre-match press conference that could take place after Sunday's match at home to Blackpool. However, while it is a course of treatment which is available to them it is not being "actively pursued" at this stage, according to the club.

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