Lessons need to be learnt with Fernando Torres

Having seen star striker Fernando Torres collapse during Spain’s World Cup Final victory over Holland, Liverpool fans could be forgiven for cursing their luck yet again. However, club doctors have allayed fears over Torres’s fitness, claiming that the Reds’ number nine could be fit in time for the start of the new Premier League season. Speaking to the club’s official website, Liverpool’s head of sports science and medicine Peter Brukner said: “He had an MRI scan yesterday which confirmed a small tear. He should be able to resume training within two to three weeks and be able to play again within three to four weeks.” Given Torres’s chequered history with injuries, manager Roy Hodgson will be keen to ensure that the Spaniard is treated with the requisite level of care needed to play frequently next season. In order to do this, the club must not rush Torres back into action too soon.

Since arriving at Anfield in the summer of 2007, Torres has participated in three straight summers of international football competition. In these three international tournaments (Euro 2008, Confederations Cup 2009 and World Cup 2010), his side, Spain, have reached the final round of each competition. Whilst one could argue that several of his Spanish international team-mates have also done so and been less susceptible to injury, Torres is the only outfield player in the Spanish squad apart from Cesc Fabregas (the Arsenal skipper has himself averaged less than 25 league starts over the last two seasons) to have spent the seasons prior to each tournament competing in the physically demanding Premier League (former Liverpool team-mates Xabi Alonso and Alvaro Arbeloa each spent 2009/10 at Real Madrid).

Liverpool’s overreliance upon Fernando Torres up-front is all too apparent. The dearth of quality alternatives available in his absence means that former manager Rafael Benitez was often forced to deploy the services of a less-than-fully-fit Torres on several occasions. This fact, in conjunction with the fact that Torres has not had a summer off since moving to Merseyside, has meant that the Spaniard has yet to undertake an extended period of rest and recuperation. Including the thigh strain sustained in last Sunday’s World Cup final, Torres has sustained three separate injuries since January of this year; a worrying and startling statistic.

During his time at Liverpool, Torres’s fitness woes have mainly consisted of strain injuries, with the former Atletico Madrid man suffering knee, hamstring, thigh and groin strains. The nature of such strain injuries means that rest is imperative for the sake of recuperation, and Torres clearly hasn’t had the chance to do. Additionally, strain injuries (particularly those concerning the hamstring) tend to have high recurrence rates, recurrence rates which are increased by the failure to recover from previous injuries.

Unfortunately, statistics vindicate Torres’s reputation as one of an injury-prone player. Since the start of the 2007/08 season, Liverpool have had 170 competitive fixtures and Torres has featured in 116 of them (68.2%). Whilst his susceptibility to injury may be something that his club cannot cure, the club must seek to better manage Torres’s injuries. Affording him much needed rest is certainly the best way of doing so.

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