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Hodgson defends lacklustre Torres

Liverpool boss Roy Hodgson leapt to the defence of striker Fernando Torres after he was wideley criticised for a disappointing display in the goalless draw with Birmingham on Sunday.

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Torres tested Blues goalkeeper Ben Foster twice in the second half but looked off the pace as he continues his return from a groin injury sustained in the World Cup final.

Despite a largely uninspiring display at St Andrew's, Hodgson was satisfied with the contribution of the Spain frontman and believes he will continue to get "better and better.''

"Fernando came into the centre on a few occasions and, when he did that, he caused havoc," Hodgson said. "You've got to give the back four of Birmingham credit. They worked very hard to contain him and pressurise him.

"But he is looking much fitter with every game and I thought he looked dangerous and I thought, the longer the game went, the stronger he became. I think he is working hard for the team. He is a constant thorn in the side of defenders.

"We know he lacks match training. He missed matches at the end of last year and during the World Cup. But I'm not at all concerned about Fernando Torres. He will get better and better.''

Liverpool needed two superb first half saves from Pepe Reina to earn them a point but Hodgson was satisfied with his side's overall performance.

"I thought they really pressurised well for a spell in the first half and we were dependent on two exceptionally good saves from Pepe Reina. But we kept our shape well during that period and the longer the game went on, the stronger we were getting.

"It was a good performance from the Birmingham team but I was not that disappointed with our performance either. We kept to our task well. It is early days for me and the team. We've had players coming into the team trying to come to terms with what we are asking of them.

"A lot of teams will come here and find it very difficult. This is a tough place and they are unbeaten here for goodness knows how long (12 months). I've got to say my expectations were not that high anyway. I would have been disappointed to lose the game but certainly not that disappointed to draw it.''

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