Finnish defender Sami Hyypia will be relieved in some ways that Liverpool team-mate Fernando Torres was injured on duty for Spain last week, because that means he won’t have to face him in tomorrow night’s friendly between the two nations. Torres is aiming to be back again for Liverpool in this weekend’s derby, where Sami will be hoping Everton see what he sees in training every week.
Speaking to the club’s official website, Sami said: “He is a very good player, and everyday he does amazingly on the training pitch. He is very hard to play against. When he gets the ball he is very direct, he goes straight towards the goal. I’d rather play with him than against him!”
Sami may not be playing in the derby himself if Danish defender Daniel Agger has recovered sufficiently from a broken metatarsal, but he says Torres’s presence at Melwood has helped improve the game of the defenders: “It’s good to have a challenge in training. If you play against one of the best strikers in the Premier League almost every day, it can only help you when the game comes around each weekend.”
The injury means Sami won’t have to work out how to play against him competitively, and he’s glad of that: “I think it would be very hard to play against him in a proper game. I’m happy I’m not the one who has to find a way to play against him in the Premier League. I think he can be one of the main strikers in the world over the next few years.”
As always when Liverpool get new players there are comparisons with past Reds greats. One aspect of Fernando’s game that is similar to legendary number nine Ian Rush is the work he does for the team. Rushie was often referred to as Liverpool’s first defender, and Hyypia sees similar qualities in Torres: “I think some people have criticised his goals record, but his game is about so much more than that. He works extremely hard for the team. He is scoring more goals now and strikers are judged on how many goals they score in however many games, so I think he could become the best in the world.”
Torres himself is desperate to be involved in the derby, having been told just how big these games are. He suffered a muscle tear, which he hopes can be overcome by Saturday with intensive treatment. He said: “I intend to be fit for Saturday. I don’t want to miss out on the derby against Everton. I’ve been told how special the game is and I need to be ready in time. I am very happy at Liverpool and I’ve learnt a lot – I love being at a big club like this. I have played in big derby matches before. I played for Atletico against Real Madrid and I’m looking forward to enjoying something similar in The Premier League.”
Ian Cotton, Liverpool’s head of press, confirmed that Torres is a possibility for the match: “Fernando was assessed by the club’s medical staff this morning and underwent a scan which confirmed an adductor injury. He will now undergo intensive treatment at Melwood.”
Torres won’t be the only player requiring assessment before Rafa picks his team for the clash with the smaller club in Liverpool. Others who missed out on international duty due to injury include Daniel Agger, Xabi Alonso and Dirk Kuyt, who are all possibilities for Saturday. Those on international duty will also be assessed on their return, Rafa working out how fit they are after their travels. Ryan Babel could be one of the fitter players to come back from playing for his country. He overslept at the weekend and as a result lost his chance of a place in the starting line-up for Holland.
Coach Marco van Basten claims this was Babel’s second incident of oversleeping: “It was the second time that Babel overslept on a match day. That should never happen. That’s why I left him out of the team. It is very well possible that Babel feels disappointed. It is also not my style to handle these kinds of things this way. But we also expect that players obey rules during a match. The first time that he arrived too late, he settled the matter with a joke. The second time he joined us too late for the meal and that was a bit too much. He has to appear on time, just like all the others.”