Roger Hunt tips record-breaker Fernando Torres to be on cloud nine

By Ian Doyle on Aug 23, 08 09:59 AM in Journalists

FERNANDO TORRES has been backed to smash yet another goalscoring record for Liverpool today.

The Spain international striker will become the first player to score in nine successive league games at Anfield if he finds the target against Middlesbrough today.

Torres equalled the record set by Roger Hunt in the 1961-62 season with his goal in the final home fixture of last season against Manchester City.

The 23-year-old went on to set a new landmark for goals scored by a foreign player in a debut Premier League campaign, his total of 24 surpassing Ruud van Nistelrooy's previous best.

Torres is already up and running this season with his late strike giving Liverpool a winning top-flight start at Sunderland last Saturday.

And Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez said: "We hope Fernando can create his piece of club history, and then maybe more in the future.

"I think it will be difficult for him this season because everybody knows him much better now.

"But he has quality and top players around him like Gerrard, Babel, Kuyt, and Keane, so it will be more difficult for the defenders to be just focused on Torres."

Torres scored a hat-trick on Middlesbrough's last visit to Anfield in February to help Benitez's side to a 3-2 win.

The striker could be in line for further accolades after joining Pepe Reina, Jamie Carragher and Steven Gerrard on the shortlist for this year's UEFA European Club Footballer of the Year award.

Having struggled to overcome Sunderland last week, Benitez expects another difficult afternoon against north east opposition.

"Gareth Southgate is doing a fantastic job at Middlesbrough," he said. "They were well organised, know what to do and play a good-counter attack.

"It will be a tough game, as always in the Premier League, and we know they beat Tottenham last week and they are a good team."

Sami Hyypia, who started at the Stadium of Light, will be absent with a hamstring injury with Daniel Agger set to replace the Finn.

And the veteran defender remains a key part of Benitez's plans with Liverpool having turned down a £2.5million offer from Premier League newcomers Stoke City.

Ryan Babel is in contention for a start this afternoon having returned from Olympics duty with Holland.

Liverpool will welcome back both Lucas and Javier Mascherano from China early next week.

Lucas was suspended from Brazil's 3-0 win over Belgium in the bronze medal match yesterday, while Mascherano will attempt to win gold for Argentina in the final against Nigeria in Beijing today.

And the midfielder believes he owes any success to Benitez, who allowed the player to travel to the Far East in search of a second successive gold.

"If I win, I'll especially dedicate my success to Rafa," said Mascherano. "He's a very important person in my life. I hope to God I can take another gold to Liverpool."

Meanwhile, reserve team striker Craig Lindfield has joined Coca-Cola League Two outfit Bournemouth on loan until September 20.

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