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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Sep 28, 2007

Hutchings defends Benitez's policy of rotation

Wigan boss Chris Hutchings has defended Liverpool counterpart Rafael Benitez's under-fire rotation policy.

Benitez has long fielded criticism regarding his line-up that he changes with every match, and tomorrow's trip to the JJB Stadium is unlikely to be any different.

This season, though, the chorus of dissent has started to become slightly more vociferous, in particular as fans wonder why club record signing Fernando Torres sits on the bench.

The £21million striker has been a substitute for the last two Premier League matches - goalless draws with Portsmouth and Birmingham.

But then handed a start against Reading in the Carling Cup in midweek, Torres scored a hat-trick in a 4-2 win to send the Reds into the last 16.

Despite that, Benitez has offered no guarantees Torres will start against the Latics.

Hutchings can understand Benitez's desire to keep his players as fresh as possible.

'He changes things week in week out, but they've a lot of foreign players there and that's the way they have been brought up,' said Hutchings. 'Whether it is Spain, Italy or wherever, they seem to accept it a little better than the English players.

'English players are more prone to playing every week, and once you get a run in the side then you want to stay in there. It is the way the game has gone, and the English players have to change, although it depends on the size of the squad.

'You can only keep so many players happy for a certain amount of time, but the Europeans seem to accept that.

'The thing is it's about a squad of players now. It's not about 11, 12 or 13, it's about 18, 20, 22 players, and he's been very successful so we can't knock it.

'And it doesn't matter who he plays - (Dirk) Kuyt, (Peter) Crouch - he's a number of fantastic players, and whoever is on the teamsheet we have to deal with them.

'It's a nice decision for him to have to make, but only he can decide. With important games coming up, if that's his choice to keep everybody fresh, then that's what he'll do. The players have to accept it, adapt to it and get on with it.'

Yet after starting the season so brightly and topping the table at one stage, those two goalless draws have undermined Benitez.

It has left Hutchings confused as he is not sure which team will show tomorrow, adding: 'You don't quite know what you're going to get from them.

'On any given day they can knock four or five past you, while on another day they might struggle - for our sake, let's hope they struggle tomorrow.'

Hutchings remains without Emile Heskey and Denny Landzaat, while Antonio Valencia (hamstring) and Ryan Taylor (calf) are doubts.