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Page last updated at 16:11 GMT, Monday, 19 April 2010 17:11 UK

Fernando Torres denies putting Spain before Liverpool

Fernando Torres and Rafael Benitez
Torres was substituted four minutes from the end of his final Liverpool game of the season

Fernando Torres has denied putting his World Cup hopes ahead of Liverpool after undergoing knee surgery that rules him out for around six weeks.

The striker, 26, will miss the rest of the Reds' season, but hopes to return in time for Spain's opener against Switzerland on 16 June.

"The injury happened in the second minute against Benfica and I played injured for 85 minutes," he said.

"If I had been thinking about Spain I would have asked for a change."

Torres went under the knife on Sunday evening to repair cartilage torn during Liverpool's 4-1 win over Benfica in the Europa League quarter-final second leg at Anfield on 8 April.

After scoring his 21st and 22nd goals of an injury-hit season in the victory, Torres has not played since.

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He has made 32 appearances for Liverpool this season after being sidelined for a month after a knee operation in January and struggling with a groin injury before Christmas.

Torres visited Barcelona-based specialist Dr Ramon Cugat over the weekend to get his latest injury assessed, but says he was already knew he was facing another operation.

"The scan I had on Friday afternoon in Liverpool cleared up the doubts and made us see that I would almost definitely have to have an operation," he told his website.

"It is true this season has been complicated by injuries. It has been difficult and a shame I have not been able to play more games and score more goals.

"The only thing now is to think about the prize of being in South Africa. You wait four years for it and if things go well I don't intend to miss it."

With their hopes of securing Champions League qualification all but extinguished, Liverpool must do without Torres in a battle to qualify for next season's Europa League.

Only fifth and sixth-place Premier League finishes guarantee European football next season although, if FA Cup finalists Portsmouth fail in their appeal to gain a Uefa licence, the team finishing seventh could also qualify for the Europa League.

Liverpool, who lie seventh, two points behind Aston Villa, face West Ham on Monday evening before Thursday's Europa League semi-final meeting with Torres' old club Atletico Madrid.

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see also
Liverpool 3-0 West Ham
19 Apr 10 |  Premier League
Europa semis get Uefa green light
19 Apr 10 |  Europe
Torres out for rest of the season
19 Apr 10 |  Liverpool
Liverpool 4-1 Benfica (agg 5-3)
08 Apr 10 |  Europe
Benitez admits Liverpool mistakes
07 Apr 10 |  Liverpool
Liverpool need six wins - Torres
29 Mar 10 |  Liverpool
Reds say Benitez will not be axed
25 Nov 09 |  Liverpool
Torres knee operation rocks Reds
14 Jan 10 |  Liverpool

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