Wednesday 24 January 2018

Benitez jumps to defence of bug-stricken Torres

Jamie Holland

THE much-criticised performance by Fernando Torres on Wednesday was due to a stomach bug, according to Chelsea manager Rafael Benitez.

Torres was noticeably off the pace during the home defeat to Swansea City in the League Cup and received unprecedented abuse from the home supporters when he was substituted for new signing Demba Ba. Benitez, though, praised Torres for playing through illness, and predicted the Chelsea fans would "love him again".

"Fernando has a stomach bug but had to play on Wednesday," Benitez said. "He was playing with this problem. He is a professional trying to do his best in a difficult situation. I am really pleased with his attitude. He tried to play with a problem. He put in an effort for the team.

"He has had a problem for a week or more. He was trying. The other day he was sick on the bench. That was why he didn't play at Southampton. He was there and making an effort just in case.

"The fans loved Torres when he was scoring and giving everything. They will love him again when he starts scoring the goals again. They will appreciate the effort."

Benitez dismissed reports that Torres had said he wanted to return to Liverpool, where he performed so well under the Spaniard. The Chelsea interim manager has told Branislav Ivanovic not to be down-hearted after the defender's mistakes in the defeat.

"The first thing I did was make clear that I was not worried about the player making a mistake," said Benitez, "only those not trying to do things the right way."

Stoke v Chelsea

Live, Setanta Ireland, 3.0

Irish Independent

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