RAFAEL BENITEZ admits the absence of Fernando Torres has been the key reason for Liverpool’s faltering season – but believes his team can still ensure a silver lining to the campaign.

The Anfield outfit begin their Europa League campaign when they host Romanian champions Unirea Urziceni in the first leg of their round of 32 tie this evening.

Liverpool dropped into the competition after being eliminated from the group stage of the Champions League for the first time in six seasons under Benitez.

Torres started only half of the six group games and has been hampered for much of the season by a succession of problems.

The striker has this week resumed light training having been sidelined for more than a month following an operation on damaged knee ligaments.

And Benitez has pointed to the influence of Wayne Rooney on Manchester United in recent months as to how much Liverpool have missed Torres, who remains the club’s leading scorer this season with 12 goals in 21 games.

“It’s the same for every team,” said the Anfield manager.

““If you lose your top scorer for a lot of games then it will cost you.

“We lost a lot of players at the same time, players with quality – Agger, Johnson, Yossi, Gerrard, Torres – all at the same time, and we’ve lost Aurelio for much of the season.

“Any team would find it difficult to manage without those numbers and that quality.

“And it is more difficult if you lose your striker who can be such a difference.

“When you talk about a good player, at his best moment he can be a massive difference, but only for a good team.

Torres, along with fellow long-term absentee Glen Johnson, is expected to be back in full training next week.

Benitez has previously admitted that securing a fourth-place Premier League finish and qualification for next season’s Champions League is the priority for his team.

Read the article on Liverpool Daily Post

Wayne Rooney influence underlines loss of Fernando Torres, says Liverpool FC manager Rafael Benitez

RAFAEL BENITEZ admits the absence of Fernando Torres has been the key reason for Liverpool’s faltering season – but believes his team can still ensure a silver lining to the campaign.

The Anfield outfit begin their Europa League campaign when they host Romanian champions Unirea Urziceni in the first leg of their round of 32 tie this evening.

Liverpool dropped into the competition after being eliminated from the group stage of the Champions League for the first time in six seasons under Benitez.

Torres started only half of the six group games and has been hampered for much of the season by a succession of problems.

The striker has this week resumed light training having been sidelined for more than a month following an operation on damaged knee ligaments.

And Benitez has pointed to the influence of Wayne Rooney on Manchester United in recent months as to how much Liverpool have missed Torres, who remains the club’s leading scorer this season with 12 goals in 21 games.

“It’s the same for every team,” said the Anfield manager.

““If you lose your top scorer for a lot of games then it will cost you.

“We lost a lot of players at the same time, players with quality – Agger, Johnson, Yossi, Gerrard, Torres – all at the same time, and we’ve lost Aurelio for much of the season.

“Any team would find it difficult to manage without those numbers and that quality.

“And it is more difficult if you lose your striker who can be such a difference.

“When you talk about a good player, at his best moment he can be a massive difference, but only for a good team.

Torres, along with fellow long-term absentee Glen Johnson, is expected to be back in full training next week.

Benitez has previously admitted that securing a fourth-place Premier League finish and qualification for next season’s Champions League is the priority for his team.

Read the article on Liverpool Daily Post

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