Torres won't start for Liverpool

BY foxsports • February 24, 2010

Liverpool's Fernando Torres will not start against Unirea Urziceni in Thursday's second leg of the Europa League round of 32 match, but manager Rafael Benitez did not rule out the Spain striker playing some role in the game.

Torres, 25, made his first appearance for Liverpool in five weeks in Sunday's 0-0 draw with Manchester City when he came on as a late substitute. Torres has been sidelined due to a knee injury.

While Benitez said it's possible Torres could make an appearance against Unirea, he reiterated that the club will exercise caution in bringing its star forward back.

"Now it is a question of one step at a time," Benitez said Wednesday. "You cannot push him too hard because you could lose the player and it is not necessary."

Liverpool won the first leg 1-0 at home. Despite the advantage, forward Ryan Babel said there is still plenty of pressure because of how important it is for the club to claim some silverware.

"At Liverpool we try to win every trophy that it is possible to go for," Babel told the Liverpool Echo.

After being eliminated from the Champions League and without a chance of winning any domestic competitions, the Europa League represents Liverpool's only chance of claiming a trophy this season.

Babel hopes to contribute to Liverpool's trophy pursuit after recently returning to the side. Babel fell out with Benitez last month and was dropped from the squad after some posts on his Twitter page upset the Liverpool manager. But he started Sunday's match against Manchester City and hopes to play an important role for the remainder of the season.

Benfica was the first team to advance to the next round of European football's second-tier competition after clinching a 4-0 win at home Tuesday in its second leg match against Hertha Berlin, winning 5-1 on aggregate.

The remaining 30 teams all play their second leg matches Thursday.

Juventus is sitting comfortably as it takes on Ajax at home after claiming a 2-1 win in Amsterdam in the first leg.

Goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon said last week's result gave Juventus a lift in confidence.

"Victories give you a boost in confidence and we need to give continuity to our result," Buffon said. "We will pick up where we left off in our game in Amsterdam."

Ajax must win for the first time in Turin if it is to advance, having lost all four matches it has played there previously.

Hamburg will be missing striker Ruud van Nistelrooy when it travels to PSV Eindhoven, the club where the Netherlands striker began his career.

Van Nistelrooy, who moved from Real Madrid to Hamburg in the January transfer window, will stay in Germany to receive treatment for a thigh strain he suffered against Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday, after making a quick comeback from injury.

"It's better to take a break again now," Van Nistelrooy said. "I would have loved to be there, but we don't want to take any risks."

Attacking midfielder Ze Roberto, who has also been out injured, is ready to help Hamburg's cause.

"Our big aim is not just to reach the next round," the Brazilian told the club's Web site, "but to play in the final in our own stadium."

Hamburg will be heading into the second leg with a 1-0 advantage.

Shakhtar Donetsk, which won the competition last year before it was revamped as the Europa League this season, will be looking to overturn a 2-1 deficit after losing to Fulham away in the first leg.

Shakhtar defender Razvan Rat said he was impressed by Fulham in the first leg, as the club was a "very level squad, where all the players work in equal manner to gain a positive result."

But Rat said, "the main task for us is to go further in the Europa League. We will do our utmost. We are spurred to win after (the) London defeat."

Other matches include Roma vs. Panathinaikos, Valencia vs. Club Brugge and Sporting vs. Everton.

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