Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Benitez updates on Liverpool injury Concerns

Rafa Benitez is hopeful of having summer signing Alberto Aquilani available for selection in Wednesday's crunch Champions League clash with Lyon.

The Italy international is recovering well from a virus which kept him out of Saturday's 3-1 defeat to Fulham.

His return to the squad would be a boost for Benitez, who will definitely be without Steven Gerrard (groin), Albert Riera (hamstring), Martin Kelly (ankle) and Martin Skrtel (muscle) for the Group E encounter.

"Aquilani had a virus. He trained today but was a little bit weak. Hopefully in two days' time he will be better," said Benitez.

"Gerrard won't travel to Lyon. He has no chance. He is improving but we have to wait. He has had an injection but we have to wait two or three days and see how he reacts.

"Skrtel has no chance. He has a small muscle problem. It's not too big but he is feeling something."

Meanwhile, the Liverpool manager will make late fitness calls on the recovering Daniel Agger (back), Glen Johnson (calf), Fabio Aurelio (calf) and David Ngog (ankle), none of whom travelled to Craven Cottage.

Benitez said: "Agger is improving - he will travel and we will then decide. He felt something in his back but it's much better now. We have to wait and see how he reacts.

"Fabio is improving but he still has a small problem in his calf, so we will have to wait.

"Ngog is much better, so he could be available.

"Johnson is training and working with the physios but he is a doubt at this moment. He will travel to Lyon and we will see."

Elsewhere, much was made of Benitez's decision to substitute Fernando Torres after 63 minutes of the Fulham loss with the score 1-1.

However, the boss feared his star striker could sustain a more serious injury had he stayed on the field.

Torres has yet to reach full fitness following an adductor injury suffered on international duty last month.

"I was surprised with the critics after the game because Fernando has had problems in the last month after the international games," said Benitez.

"We are trying to manage because he was close to having an operation. Still this morning, two days after the game, he is feeling something.

"He is not comfortable. He has not got the power he had before, so we have to manage and try to protect him. He cannot play well if you keep pushing him. Maybe if you push him he will be injured for a long time.

"So, I am really surprised with the critics. When you talk about big names, people just analyse the names and not how the player is when he is on the pitch. He was not 100 per cent fit.

"We have to take Fernando to Lyon because we don't have too many options. We have to keep working with him and the rest of the players."

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