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Zenit sign Bart Simpson

The Toe Poke 8 hours ago
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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Nov 5, 2007

Benitez boost as Torres returns to training

Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez will wait until the last minute before deciding whether striker Fernando Torres can face Besiktas in Tuesday's Champions League clash at Anfield.

The Spanish star, fighting to overcome an adductor strain, trained Monday and will have another session on Tuesday.

But while Benitez admits to being 'very confident' that Torres can play in the vital Group A match, he has revealed that Xabi Alonso (metatarsal) will be out for a month.

Defender Daniel Agger is three weeks away from being available but Harry Kewell has had no reaction to his groin injury after two run outs as substitute in five days.

• Meanwhile, Jamie Carragher insists Liverpool thrive on pressure as he prepares for the must-win Champions League clash with Turkish side Besiktas.

The teak-tough defender demands character from his colleagues, and believes the Reds are more than capable of defying the odds to win their last three Group A games, which would secure unlikely qualification for the last 16.

Carragher said: 'We should have pressure, that's what comes from playing for a big team.

'If the results don't go well, and it is same for Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester United and all the big clubs around Europe, you are under pressure.

'But we want to be under pressure, because it is a big game, it is only what we expect.

'We have a lot of respect for Besiktas, they beat us in Turkey and played well. It was a great atmosphere and they did well, but we know we can put that right on our own pitch.

'Hopefully this will bring the best out of our squad. We have been in this position before and produced the goods then.

'This club is built on character, and we know we need that. We must start the game well and turn it into a great European night.'

Carragher added: 'Looking at the group table, we know it is not good, but I feel it will look a lot better after the game.

'It is a competition we have done really well in, so we are scratching our heads a bit to understand what has gone wrong this season.

'Maybe it was because we started so badly in the first 20 minutes of the opening game in Porto, then we had a man sent off and conceded a penalty.

'It wasn't a great start although the draw was a good result in the circumstances. Then we played really badly in losing at home to Marseille and they got an amazing goal near the end and we didn't recover.

'Away to Besiktas, we were unfortunate. We had so many chances. But that is the way it goes.

'It is right that people expected us to breeze through this group considering how well we had done in the last few years.

'But it is never as easy as that. This is the Champions League and anyone can beat even the best - that has been proved over these first three games.

'There's nothing wrong with our confidence, we have only lost a couple of games this season. But we have not played that well, and that has got to change now.'

Carragher maintains that people have had every right to be critical of Liverpool this term, saying: 'We expect criticism if we don't do well. We are Liverpool, we are expected to win and when we don't then we know people will have their say. What's different about that?

'We are English football's most successful side in Europe, we expect people to have a go at us if our standards drop. That is when you realise you are playing for a special club.

'One good result and we will be on a run again. People always write us off but it never bothers me, it is part of playing for a big club.

'There's always one time a season when all hell breaks lose. In the manager's first season, it was when we lost to Burnley in the (FA) Cup. The following season it came after a defeat at Crystal Palace in the Carling Cup.

'Last season, it was when we lost to Arsenal twice in a week. Everyone was going nuts but it wasn't long before we were all back to normal.'