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Benitez backs Torres

Rafael Benitez has jumped to the defence of Fernando Torres in the face of fresh criticism about the Spaniard's contribution and backed him to win over Chelsea's fans.

Torres, 28, has scored 14 times for Chelsea this season but a below-par performance in the Capital One Cup semi final first-leg defeat against Swansea has again raised questions about his place in the team.

With the addition of Demba Ba, who scored twice on his debut in the 5-1 FA Cup win against Southampton, there is added pressure on the Spaniard to perform consistently, but Benitez has claimed the reason for Torres' display against Swansea was because of illness.

"He was playing with this problem," Benitez said. "You have a professional trying to do his best in this situation for the team. I was really pleased with the attitude of Fernando.

"We had to manage the situation. It was explained to me as a bug, a virus. He had a problem for a week or more. The other day he was sick on the bench. That's why I didn't play him at Southampton. I was there when he was with the doctor, needing tablets. He had some treatment.

"When he starts scoring again the fans will appreciate this. The fans loved Torres when he was scoring and giving everything. They will love him again when he starts scoring goals.

"As a top-level player you have to accept you can be criticised. He is a very good professional. He had the problem but he was still training and playing."

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