Torres going extra mile to get fit

Liverpool striker Fernando Torres’ determination to remain fit for the rest of the season has seen him hitting the gym on his days off.

While most of the squad took manager Rafael Benitez’s offer of spending time away from the club’s Melwood training ground, the Spain international, who played 45 minutes against France in midweek, turned up for additional work yesterday.

It is not the first time this season he has done extra gym sessions in an attempt to get himself up to speed as quickly as possible.

However, with just 10 matches remaining in the league, both Torres and his manager knows how important it is for him to be firing on all cylinders in the race for the last Champions League place.

"We still we have some good players around but Fernando is a key player for us, the same as Steven Gerrard," said Benitez.

"Fernando can score goals on his own so hopefully he will be okay. "

He was training yesterday – even though we had a day off – so that means he wants to improve and wants to be physically well so that is also good news for us.

"Fernando is not fully match fit, not really. One week ago he was not fully fit for games and he cannot be in one week – it is not a miracle.

"He has to keep working and he has spent some time in the gym and he can be better every week.

"I could say to you he is 50% and then he scores three against Wigan. He is improving but it is a question of games.

"Sometimes it is not just your match fitness, it is if you can play well or be in the right position to score the winning goal.

"Then everything changes. It is not just a physical aspect."

With defenders Martin Skrtel (broken metatarsal) and Fabio Aurelio (thigh strain) sidelined in the last 10 days Benitez is praying there are no more injuries to befall his side.

He lost Torres for five weeks in mid-January because of a knee operation, Gerrard struggled for full fitness in the first half of the campaign and right-back Glen Johnson has not played since the end of December.

Johnson may, however, be fit enough for a comeback at Wigan, having come through a training game against the reserves in the week.

And despite a number of his players having gone away on international duty, the Liverpool boss said he no longer worries about such matters.

"The only thing you can do is relax because it is not good for my health and you cannot change things," he added.

"Everyone is playing games around the world. "But it is important we don’t have too many injuries.

"We have lost Aurelio and Skrtel for a while now and so we don’t want to lose anyone else.

"We have Torres coming back, Gerrard is scoring goals – which is a boost for the rest of the players – and we have more confidence.

"We have much more quality in attack and we are still strong in defence so I think we are in a good moment but we have to carry on and keep winning games."

The return of Johnson will be a welcome one for Benitez, who last week against Blackburn had to play defensive midfielder Javier Mascherano at right-back because of injury to Skrtel and suspension to Sotirios Kyrgiakos.

"Johnson is really close because he was training with us this week," said the Spaniard.

"On Thursday we played a game against the reserves and he was involved in the game.

"I have to decide whether he can be involved in the squad but I think he can be.

"He is another player with quality so hopefully he will give us different options on the right side.

"We have problems in this position and now he is available he has quality going forward and his maybe the best in England in his position.

"I will be pleased to see him back."

Centre-back Daniel Agger is expected to be fit despite bruising his right knee against Blackburn last Sunday which saw him leave Anfield on crutches.