Rafa Benitez is keeping his fingers crossed that Fernando Torres will only be out of action for ten days with the hamstring injury that marred Liverpool's 0-0 draw with Aston Villa. The Reds manager will today discover the extent of the injury suffered by the striker, which will prevent him from reporting for international duty with Spain this week.
UEFA EURO 2008 winners Spain and their new coach Vicente Del Bosque will have to do without Torres for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ qualifiers against Bosnia and Armenia. But only scans will determine how long, if at all, Liverpool will be deprived of his talents, with huge games on the horizon against Manchester United and Marseille in the UEFA Champions League after the international break.
"He will have a scan and then we will know more about the situation. We are hopeful that he will only be out for between seven and ten days. We have to wait and see, but that is what we hope. Then he will only miss one game," said Benitez.
"That should be the same as Gerrard. Of course it hurts us to lose a player of Torres' quality, but we have to wait. . We hope."
It seems an optimistic view from Benitez, with even the mildest of hamstring injuries usually requiring at least three weeks rehabilitation, although Liverpool expect to complete the signing of Albert Riera from Espanyol today for eight million pounds to ease the strain. "We are in touch with the club and we hope that we can finish all that on Monday. We are very close and that will be the end of our transfer business," added Benitez.
Benitez's first visit to Villa Park since he was forced to abandon his bid to lure England international Gareth Barry away from the Midlands club to Anfield was a turbulent one, with the home supporters hurling abuse the former Valencia coach throughout Sunday's game. But Villa manager Martin O'Neill shook hands with the man who has caused so much turmoil this summer before the game, and wants an end to the feud.
"I am sure it will be absolutely fine now. Whether he was surprised I don't know, but it has all gone now as far as I am concerned. Obviously I am delighted that Gareth is staying with us. I am not making any rash promises, but it is great that he is here still and I thought he did really well considering the circumstances.
"He has had a lot to ponder over the last few weeks. for the next few months and get back to the form that we all know he is capable of."