Injury boost as Liverpool FC striker Fernando Torres targets Real Madrid return
FERNANDO TORRES is confident he will be fit to take on Real Madrid.
Liverpool welcome Real for their first ever visit to Anfield on Tuesday in the second leg of their Champions League last-16 tie.
They lead 1-0 from the first leg in the Bernabeu, the game in which Torres sustained the ankle injury he is currently sidelined with.
Liverpool then face Manchester United in the Barclays Premier League a week on Saturday in a match they have to win to have any hope of catching their title rivals. Torres said last night: "I hope to be available for both of the matches because they will be two great games.
"The ankle injury has been giving me some trouble and the recovery process is taking longer than I hoped.
"However, I am quite optimistic that I will be ready for the match versus Real Madrid, and if the ankle holds out, I will also be at Old Trafford."
Torres does not accept the claim that his injury problems this season have cost Liverpool their chance of winning the Premier League title, adding: "I don't think that I'm to blame for the injuries, it forms part of the game. I have suffered three muscular injuries during the first three months of the competition, and now I have picked up an ankle injury. I don't think that my injury should be considered as a reason for Liverpool not winning the league.
"Although following a couple of poor results we have lost touch with Manchester United at the top, the team has done well this season.
"The league though is still alive, but Man United are looking strong and they are not dropping points."
The Spain forward insisted his own future at Anfield was not tied to that of manager and compatriot Rafael Benitez, who is yet to sign a new deal with Liverpool.
"My future is tied with Liverpool, because I still have four years left to run on my contract," he added.
"Therefore, should Rafa leave, I will stay on and fulfil my contract with the club. My wish is that Rafa extends his contract with Liverpool.
"I cannot think about how a possible departure might affect me, because it hasn't happened yet, and I don't like wasting time thinking about ifs and buts."
Torres has been voted the PFA Fans' Player of Month for February after hitting a double to defeat Chelsea on the first day of the month, and following it up with a late winner at Fratton Park.
Meanwhile, Emiliano Insua admits he will have to prove himself all over again if he is to regain his left-back slot on a permanent basis.
The 20-year-old made his first appearance since returning from the South American Under-20 Championships in the 2-0 Premier League win over Sunderland on Tuesday.
Before he flew out to Venezuela to represent Argentina in the tournament Insua had made the left-back slot his own with a series of solid performances.
Liverpool won four of the five games he appeared in and drew the other at Arsenal - but Insua insists he had no option but to abandon his flourishing club career.
And now he is back in the first team picture he is aware of the need to step up his work-rate to re-establish himself in a position that Fabio Aurielo and Andrea Dossena are ready to fight for.
"It's a tough level because it's the best league in the world," Insua said. "Playing for Liverpool is even tougher because this team always has to play to win. You also have many players who play for their national teams.
"But I came back from the tournament in South America two weeks ago and I'm back training with the first team.
"I'll just keep training hard and keep trying to show the boss that I'm good enough.
"It was a difficult decision for me to go away because I'd played four consecutive games but you have to say yes to the national team. I spoke with Rafa and he told me to go."