Liverpool mulling recall for Torres

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> Facing early elimination from the Champions League, Liverpool could be about to risk recalling striker Fernando Torres against Besiktas on Tuesday.

Updated: November 07, 2007 10:05 IST
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Facing early elimination from the Champions League, Liverpool could be about to risk recalling striker Fernando Torres against Besiktas on Tuesday.

Torres' scoring ability could represent Liverpool's best chance of getting the win it needs to keep alive a realistic chance of reaching the second round, but the Spain striker was expected to be out for at least two weeks after tearing a thigh muscle in the Premier League on October 28.

That 1-1 draw with Arsenal was Torres' first game back after a previous injury, and the sight of him limping out of action suggested manager Rafa Benitez may have recalled him too early once already.

But Benitez may feel he does not have much choice this time.

A 2-1 defeat at Besiktas two weeks ago has left last year's runner-up in last place in Group A and needing to win its next three matches.

The five-time European champions have one point, six fewer than leader Marseille, and are counting on the kind of improbable comeback that won them the 2005 title against AC Milan, when they rallied from 3-0 down to draw 3-3 and win a penalty shootout.

"We have been in this situation before, many times - maybe too many times - and we have pulled through," Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard said. "They were one-off games, but there is no reason why we cannot hit top form for three consecutive European Cup games.

"It is three cup finals for us now and we know we can do it. But we have made it a lot tougher than it had to be."

Torres has hit seven goals since his club-record move from Atletico Madrid in the offseason and become a key player for the Reds, with the attack often looking disjointed and unthreatening in his absence.

Dirk Kuyt has yet to score from open play this season and missed chances to win Saturday's 0-0 Premier League draw against Blackburn, but Benitez could still field the Netherlands striker irrespective of whether Torres plays.

"I will not criticize Kuyt because he plays a lot of games and over 90 minutes his work rate is fantastic," Benitez said. "When you have a player who can create three or four chances for himself, normally sometimes he will score, so I think I must be pleased and positive with Kuyt.

"We need to profit from the work he is doing up front and it will be easier for him to score if his teammates can score the first goal."

Draw comfort

Liverpool drew at FC Porto before losing against Marseille and Besiktas, but can draw comfort from the fact that five clubs in the past five seasons have qualified for the next round after taking no more than one point from the first three matches.

English rivals Arsenal and Newcastle have both managed it, with the latter advancing with just nine points in 2003.

"Giving up or feeling sorry for ourselves is not something we have even thought about," Gerrard said. "After the defeat by Besiktas, we could not really believe that we had not taken anything from the game.

"We dominated possession, territory and chances but they hit us with a sucker punch on the break."

Midfielder Javier Mascherano could play after making his return from a bruised foot against Blackburn and Harry Kewell could start for the first time since the 2006 FA Cup final, but defender Xabi Alonso and midfielder Daniel Agger are still out injured.

Besiktas, which is in third place with three points, will be without defenders Gokhan Zan and Rodrigo Tello, and striker Marcio Nobre.

But Liverpool has to make sure it concentrates on beating Besiktas, and not allow thoughts to switch to subsequent matches at home to Porto and then at Marseille.

"What we have now is an absolute mountain to climb," Gerrard said. "But there is a real belief in the group that we can make it happen."

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