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Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson defends Fernando Torres

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Hodgson sees 'promising signs' at Liverpool

Liverpool boss Roy Hodgson defended Fernando Torres after the striker's subdued performance in the goalless draw at Birmingham.

"Fernando came into the centre on a few occasions and, when he did that, he caused havoc," said Hodgson.

"You've got to give the back four of Birmingham credit. They worked very hard to contain him and pressurise him.

"But he's looking fitter with every game. I thought he looked dangerous and became stronger as the game went on."

Torres is returning to match fitness after a knee injury at the end of last season and a groin problem suffered in the World Cup final in July.

During last week's international break he headed to Argentina with the Spain squad for a friendly, although he did not play.

He scored the winner in Liverpool's league win over West Brom and Hodgson, whose side have managed only two goals in their opening four league games this season, insisted his main striker is showing signs of improvement.

606: DEBATE

"I think he is working hard for the team," added the Reds boss. "He is a constant thorn in the side of defenders.

"We know he lacks match training. He missed matches at the end of last year and during the World Cup but I'm not at all concerned about Fernando Torres. He will get better and better."

Liverpool had two impressive saves from keeper Pepe Reina to thank for earning them a point at Birmingham.

Spaniard Reina had played in the international friendly against Argentina in midweek and a horrible blunder by him gifted the home side a goal in the 4-1 defeat of the World Champions.

Hodgson tried to look at the positives from a game Liverpool scarcely looked like winning, with his side seven points behind Premier League leaders Chelsea.

"I thought they really pressurised well for a spell in the first half and we were dependent on two exceptionally good saves from Pepe Reina," stated Hodgson.

"But we kept our shape well during that period and the longer the game went on, the stronger we were getting.

Birmingham were excellent - McLeish

"It was a good performance from the Birmingham team but I was not that disappointed with our performance either.

"We kept to our task well. It is early days for me and the team. We've had players coming into the team trying to come to terms with what we are asking of them.

"A lot of teams will come here and find it very difficult. This is a tough place and they are unbeaten here for goodness knows how long [12 months].

"I've got to say my expectations were not that high anyway. I would have been disappointed to lose the game but certainly not that disappointed to draw it."

Birmingham manager Alex McLeish praised his side's performance but was left rueing the lack of a cutting edge in front of goal.

"We never took the chances, that is why we didn't win, but I've got to be thrilled with the performance," said the Scot.

"Reina was outstanding. Whether they were world-class saves, that's for the experts to decide, but they certainly looked tremendous saves from where I was.

"We were just looking for the killer touch but the performance level of the whole team was fantastic."



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see also
Birmingham were excellent - McLeish
12 Sep 10 |  Birmingham
Birmingham 0-0 Liverpool
12 Sep 10 |  Premier League
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