Rafa Benitez believes his friendship with Spain coach Vicente del Bosque will ensure the country do not overuse Fernando Torres and risk another injury setback for the Liverpool striker.
Torres made his eagerly-awaited return to first-team action when coming off the bench against Manchester City at the weekend and sources in Spain claim he is likely to be included in the country’s squad for their friendly against France on March 3.
“Fernando is our player, working with our physios, but we have a good relationship with Fernando Hierro [Spain’s technical director], Del Bosque and Javier Minano [the fitness coach],” said Benítez in the Guardian. “When people try to create a mess between Spain and us, remember that Del Bosque was the academy director at Real when I was an academy coach and I was his assistant for the first team. We have a really good relationship.
“His fitness coach was my fitness coach in the Under-18s and the second team. He is my friend. Hierro was in the first team when I was assistant at Real and we had a very good relationship. If I defend my players, it is because I have to, but we have very good communication with Spain.”
Torres had not played since the FA Cup defeat to Reading on January 13 due to a knee injury but played 15 minutes of the 0-0 draw at Eastlands. Yossi Benayoun also made his first appearance since the Reading tie and Benitez is pleased to have both players available again.
“Fernando and Yossi have been important in the past and hopefully both will be important in the future,” Benitez said. “Fernando needs to improve his fitness and Yossi has to do the same but at least we have better competition. But Yossi is coming back, Torres is coming back, and hopefully Glen Johnson will come back in the next week.”