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Liverpool's Fernando Torres out for rest of season

Fernando Torres
Torres has scored 22 goals in all competitions for Liverpool this season

Fernando Torres will miss the rest of Liverpool's season after knee surgery but could return in time to play for Spain in the World Cup in June.

The striker, 26, who saw a specialist in Spain on Sunday, has been troubled by the problem for a number of weeks.

Torres went under the knife on Sunday evening to have torn cartilage in his right knee repaired.

A Liverpool spokesman said: "The usual rehabilitation period for this type of procedure is around six weeks."

The fitness of Torres will be closely monitored by Spain manager Vicente del Bosque, whose side's opening World Cup game is against Switzerland on 16 June.

Del Bosque must submit his final 23-man squad to Fifa by 1 June, and will clearly want the Madrid-born player to be available. The good news for him is that Torres was able to return six weeks after his last knee operation in February.

Torres, who joined Liverpool from Atletico Madrid in 2007, will miss out on meeting his former club in the Europa League semi-finals on Thursday.

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Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez must also cope without his services for their last four Premier League matches, starting with Monday night's home fixture against relegation-threatened West Ham.

Torres has scored 22 goals in all competitions this season, despite being beset by various injuries.

He was sidelined for a month after a knee operation in January and before Christmas struggled with a groin injury.

Torres's absence for the closing stages of the campaign is the latest blow for Liverpool in a season which has been beset by injuries to key players and poor form as the expected push for a first title since 1990 petered out early on.

Fernando Torres scores v Ukraine

Torres scores for Spain in 2006 World Cup

Early exits from the Champions League, FA Cup and Carling Cup have added to the pressure on the Reds, and with fourth place in the Premier League - and a place in the qualifying rounds of the Champions League - looking beyond them, there is even a theory that Torres may have played his last game for the club.

BBC Radio 5 live's John Murray said: "If there's no Champions League football at Anfield next season, which does look likely now, the fear for the club's legion of supporters the world over is that they have already seen the last of Fernando Torres in a Liverpool shirt."

The debt-ridden club is up for sale and all but out of the running for one of the valuable Champions League places, with the Europa League their only chance of silverware.

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez is left with a major headache in attack, with potentially seven games left to play in a season where goals have been hard to come by when Torres has not played.

Spain's World Cup qualifying highlights

Dirk Kuyt, who normally plays on the right of midfield, can play as a forward and has scored nine league goals this season.

French striker David Ngog, 21, has scored only four times in the Premier League during the current campaign, with his last league goal coming on 16 December in the 2-1 home win over Wigan.

Benitez also has 19-year-old Spanish striker Daniel Pacheco, who has made the occasional substitute appearance this season.



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see also
Liverpool 3-0 West Ham
19 Apr 10 |  Premier League
Zola hopes to halt Anfield jinx
19 Apr 10 |  Premier League
Europa semis get Uefa green light
19 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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