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Last Updated: Friday, 28 September 2007, 07:49 GMT 08:49 UK
Benitez demands Torres protection
Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez
Benitez was unhappy with treatment Reading dished out to Torres
Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez has demanded greater protection from referees for striker Fernando Torres.

Benitez was furious with the treatment dished out to Torres as he scored a hat-trick in the 4-2 Carling Cup win at Reading on Tuesday.

He said: "I was trying to make my feelings clear during the game about how he was being kicked all the time.

"The answer is clear. Players with quality must be given better protection by officials."


Benitez added: "You need to protect key players. It is important that if you want to see better football you need to protect the players with quality then we'll see more goals and maybe people will be happier.

"People keep wondering whether Fernando will be in the starting line-up on Saturday when they should be asking why he isn't getting more protection.

"That is the real question and it needs addressing. Every time he goes out there he faces a physical problem from centre-backs. People have to decide if they want football to be worth watching or not.

"It is fortunate that he is a strong boy and can stand up to the challenge, but there is always a chance he could pick up an injury that may keep him out for two or three days - or even two or three months."

Benitez, meanwhile, says his squad rotation system will pay dividends at the end of the season.

He did not start Torres in the goalless draws with Portsmouth and Birmingham before the forward scored a hat-trick at Reading.

"I don't need Torres for playing Birmingham if I have Dirk Kuyt, Andriy Voronin and Peter Crouch," he said.

"I need the speed of Torres in the last game of the season - maybe a Champions League final or to win the league."

"Those are the decisions of a manager," he added.

Despite Torres' triple in the Carling Cup win over Reading, Benitez said it does not guarantee him a starting place for the Reds at Wigan on Saturday.

"When you are playing for winning trophies you must analyse everything and say 'OK for the last 10-15 games I need Torres fit'," he said.

"People are talking about players playing a lot of games now. They can do it. I don't say that they can't.

"You can play 20, 25 or 30 games in a row. No problem. Everybody can do it. The problem is at the end of the season after 30-40 games.

"The last 10-15 games you are playing for trophies and you must be fresh, ready and fit."

Reading 2-4 Liverpool
25 Sep 07 |  League Cup
Benitez frustration over Gerrard
24 Sep 07 |  Liverpool
Liverpool 0-0 Birmingham
22 Sep 07 |  Premier League
Porto 1-1 Liverpool
18 Sep 07 |  Europe
Portsmouth 0-0 Liverpool
15 Sep 07 |  Premier League


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