Torres and Aquilani to face Fiorentina

 

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez is hopeful Fernando Torres and summer signing Alberto Aquilani will play some part in the upcoming Champions League dead rubber against Fiorentina on Wednesday.

The Spaniard is confident his compatriot will by on the bench as he continues his recovery from a groin injury and is contemplating giving the former Roma midfielder his first start against familiar opposition.

The Italian arrived at Anfield after his €22 million move with an ankle injury and has been used very sparingly off the bench in the last month.

"Hopefully Torres will be ready this week - I don't know if he will play or be on the bench," said Benitez, whose side has nothing to play for in their final group game after watching the Italians and Lyon progress to the knockout stages.

"Aquilani will maybe start the game, we are considering this."

Benitez added Aquilani did not come on in yesterday’s goalless draw with Blackburn because of the physical nature of the opposition.

"I feel this was a difficult, physical place to come and not the right time to throw him on.

"He will be better getting his chance in a home match with our fans behind him. It is a difficult decision when someone is not fully match fit, he could make a mistake and it would set him back."

Benitez has revealed, meanwhile, Javier Mascherano is in talks with the club about extending his contract. The midfielder has been strongly linked with a move away from Anfield for some months, with Barcelona said to be the most likely destination.

The Reds have continually denied that the Argentina international is for sale, particularly as the reports came so soon after the club sold influential midfielder Xabi Alonso to Real Madrid in the summer.

Mascherano, who has admitted to finding it hard to settle on Merseyside in the past, appears to have turned the corner and discussions are under way.

"We were talking with him and his agent a month ago about our idea and his idea," Benitez said. "Everyone can see he's doing really well and has come back to his best. We were really pleased to talk to him to make progress.

"We have plenty of time but we are happy with him and he is happier now too. He has two more years on his contract, we were talking before and we will sit down sooner rather than later and talk about the future.

"The last conversations that we had were very positive."