Hodgson: No more excuses for fully fit Torres

Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson believes striker Fernando Torres is on the verge of re-discovering the magic that has fired the Reds to great heights in the past.

Torres is expected to lead the line in Holland on Thursday evening when Liverpool face FC Utrecht in the Europa League.

And Hodgson insists the Spaniard has no more excuses as he is now fully fit and ready to start firing.

GEAR: 2010/11 Europa League kits. Get your new shirt here with our online retailer Kitbag

“There is no reason now to separate Fernando from the rest of the group because he trains every day,” Hodgson said. “I think the injury problems are behind him now and we can’t bring those up any more.

“It has just been a question of monitoring him and being careful because he came back to training late, but you can see that his sharpness is there from the goals he has created.”

Liverpool have endured a disappointing start to the new campaign with just one league win and a humiliating Carling Cup exit to Northampton Town.

A misfiring Torres has only added to the sense of crisis. But the new manager is convinced that El Nino is on the verge of coming to the Reds' rescue.

“Fernando is getting better and better,” Hodgson said. “He has done so well in last two games, he was behind our last four goals, two against [Manchester] United and two against Sunderland.

“He will get confidence from that. I said all along it was just a matter of time and it is good to see him getting closer and closer to his level.”

Skipper Steven Gerrard has been left at home to ensure he is fully fit for Sunday’s game against Blackpool, while defender Daniel Agger is ruled out with a groin injury.

By Luke Nicholls