Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez has told his Reds squad that everyone including Spanish International Fernando Torres will have to compete for a place in the first team at the Merseyside club.
The former Valencia coach has been playing a more settled team of late in the Premier League, with Benitez seeming to have ditched the rotation policy the Spaniard had become renowned for. This reluctance to change a winning side resulted in Benitez only giving EURO 2008 Winner Torres a place on the bench in their 2-0 win in the Premiership against Bolton Wanderers at the Reebok Stadium on Saturday.
Although last seasons top-scorer for Liverpool Torres came on as a second half substitute against the Trotters, Benitez insists that the former Atletico Madrid striker has to improve and compete like everyone else for a place in the Anfield side.
“The players have to compete for their positions in the side, be it Torres or anyone else,” Benitez said.
“Torres has to improve, if he does and he is fit then I will decide what to do, although I expect to be criticised.
“I did not have to explain to Fernando why he was not playing, it was very clear. The team had been playing well and he has to compete for his position.
“He played well when he came on, but then other players who come on as substitute also did well, not just him.
“That is the key if you want to have a winning mentality and a winning squad."
Torres, who has just returned from injury for Liverpool has been called up by Spain for their International friendly against Chile on Wednesday, but Benitez had bemoaned the Spanish call-up for Torres, who is lacking match fitness and revealed that he has asked the Spanish coaching staff not to take any chances with his talisman.
“Torres will join up with Spain. I am not happy, but I cannot do anything about it. We are talking to international managers and asking them to protect our players,” he added.
“We have asked that the Spanish set-up does not take any chances, that they protect the player.”