x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Torres out of pre-season with thigh injury

Spain striker has a torn left thigh muscle but Liverpool hope to have the World Cup winner fit in time for the start of new season.

Fernando Torres is carried off on stretcher during the World Cup final against Holland after after tearing a thigh muscle.
Fernando Torres is carried off on stretcher during the World Cup final against Holland after after tearing a thigh muscle.

There was good and bad news for Liverpool yesterday surrounding the injury status of their star striker Fernando Torres. A scan carried out by the Spanish Football Federation (FSF) has diagnosed the problem that forced the striker to pull up in Sunday's World Cup final as a grade one tear of the left thigh.

That means Torres will miss Liverpool's entire pre-season, including a Europa League qualifier to be played at the end of this month. On the positive side, the injury is not as severe as first thought and he should be fit for the start of the Premier League season. It is also likely to put an end to speculation of a move away from Anfield for the Spanish forward with Chelsea and Manchester City being linked.

Liverpool's medical staff are now meeting the player, who is in his homeland at the start of his summer break, to assess the injury themselves and determine his likely lay-off. Torres, 26, was hampered by injuries last season, having a spell out with a groin problem and then having two knee operations. He was still Liverpool's top goalscorer with 22 but lacked match sharpness throughout the World Cup and endured a disappointing tournament on a personal level.

Nevertheless, Roy Hodgson, Liverpool's new manager, admitted that pictures of Torres celebrating the World Cup triumph wearing a Liverpool scarf have lifted the club. The former Atletico Madrid man was one of four Liverpool players in World Cup squads along with Jose Reina, his Spanish teammate and the Holland pair Dirk Kuyt and Ryan Babel. "As Liverpool manager, I take great pride in the fact that two of our players can call themselves World Cup winners this summer," Hodgson told the club's website. "I think it's safe to say the pictures of Fernando in the dressing room with the World Cup certainly went down well with our fans but the club can be proud of all the players who went away to the World Cup."

Chelsea have been given a pre-season fitness boost after Ray Wilkins, their assistant coach, confirmed that midfielders Michael Essien and John Obi Mikel should be ready for the start of the new Premier League campaign. But while Wilkins said the fitness of their World Cup stars would require careful handling to prevent them "hitting the wall" by the end of the year. Essien and Mikel missed out on the World Cup with Ghana and Nigeria respectively because of knee injuries. But the extra fitness work carried out during the summer break has put them both in contention for a return to action in time for the August 14 kick-off.

"They have been working double sessions for the last week and we will get them really firing before the season starts," said Wilkins. Wilkins is also ready to manage a fitness plan for the nine Chelsea players, including Didier Drogba and Frank Lampard, who did take part in the tournament. "It is very important we manage them in the correct manner and we get them to a level where they won't be as fit as we want them to be, but as they creep into the new year their fitness will come back."

* PA