Rafa Benitez eyes solution to Fernando Torres injury woes
RAFAEL BENITEZ is determined to get to the bottom of Fernando Torres's hamstring crisis and avoid the sort of long-term problem that disrupted Michael Owen's Anfield career.
The Liverpool manager is confident that his record signing can shake off the persistent problems that have blighted his second season in English football.
He has already missed seven Liverpool games this season following the hamstring tear he initially sustained playing for Spain in a World Cup qualifier with Belgium in September.
And he will be out for at least a further three weeks after he aggravated the same muscle in Wednesday's Champions League win over Marseille.
Benitez is sure there will be no lasting effects for the player but he has admitted that he and his staff are back to square one in trying to identify exactly what is causing his agony.
But he isn't anticipating that his fellow Spaniard will endure the same kind of agony Owen suffered over a sustained period of time.
"In a few weeks Torres will be okay," said the manager "Each player is different so now I have a lot of confidence that we can find a solution sooner rather than later.
"When you get two or three injuries in the same muscle it's something you have to consider that it could be long term.
"Sometimes it is a problem with your back or how you walk so you need to analyse everything because small things can change everything.
"It's not a question of what the players do every day but there may be one or two things that are important. We need to check all the things that they were doing before and change things if necessary."
Benitez insists that Torres has
not been rushed back to action too early after his second setback last month, which he also sustained on international duty.
He was eased back into action as a substitute against West Brom and Bolton, starting the Carling Cup defeat to Spurs in between before again coming on as a sub for Spain against Chile in a friendly last week.
He then played 90 minutes of the 0-0 draw with Fulham last Saturday before also completing the 1-0 victory over Marseille - with Benitez insisting he was in good condition to play ahead of all those games.
"We have been doing some prevention work but now we need to look at maybe changing the way we do things and analyse more things," said Benitez.
"We were doing everything right and the player was sharp, you could see that he was ready but he has the same problem now and we have to analyse and change things if necessary. All the players do specific work. and normally with injuries you know the weakness of the player and work with the physios and fitness coach and you do different exercises to prevent certain things.
"We played him at Tottenham in the Carling Cup for 55 minutes so we had an idea, a timing and everything was under control.
"So he was training really well and you could see he was sharp, that's why he played the other day because he had lot of confidence.
"And I can guarantee you that the other day before we were training and we were really pleased with him and Steven Gerrard because both were working very hard and you could see the sharpness of both."
Torres will miss Monday's home game with West Ham, along with Fabio Aurelio who is set to be out for two weeks with a calf problem.
The forward will also be out of the final Champions League group game at PSV Eindhoven, but with Liverpool already through to the knockout stages this is of less pressing concern than December's Premier League games.
He is certain to miss the trip to Blackburn and the home game with Hull City but won't be rushed back for Arsenal away on December 21 unless the injury is cleared up 100%.
"I know from experiences I've had, when you have weaknesses it's just to change a small thing," Benitez added.
"Sometimes to go to the gym every day and just one exercise. It can be very simple but you need to know exactly. And sometimes it's bad luck because you do everything, the player is fit and sharp and then it could be one tackle.
"But I will say that we were doing things really well. The player was under control and the feeling of the player were really good, he was sharp and quick, so sometimes you never know.
"You can only change things by training and playing some games."