Mar 27 2008 by Tony Barrett, Liverpool Echo
FERNANDO TORRES has shaken off any fears that he could be a doubt for the Merseyside derby by coming through a friendly run-out for Spain.
Liverpool’s top scorer was taken off after 49 minutes of the Spanish national team’s 1-0 win over Italy but, despite some rough treatment from Marco Materazzi, he emerged unscathed and was today returning to Merseyside to join up with the Reds squad ahead of Sunday’s meeting with Everton.
Torres’ early substitution caused some fears that he might have sustained an injury but the ECHO understands Rafa Benitez had an agreement with Spain boss Luis Aragones that his star striker would be taken off shortly after the start of the second half.
Benitez was today assessing the fitness of his international contingent ahead of naming his squad for the derby.
Yossi Benayoun staked his claim for a first team recall with the goal in Israel’s 1-0 win over Chile and he will come into contention for a starting role with Javier Mascherano ruled out through suspension.
Benitez is considering the claims of Benayoun, Jermaine Pennant, Lucas and Peter Crouch before settling on his line-up.
Sami Hyypia, expected to put pen to paper on a new one-year deal at the weekend, and Steve Finnan also comes back into the reckoning after missing out at Manchester United. last Sunday.
One player who definitely will not be involved is Harry Kewel, who is returning from international duty with a groin strain.
Benitez has already admitted it will be difficult for Kewell to win a new contract at Anfield when his current deal expires.
Meanwhile, Alvaro Arbeloa believes Everton will pose Liverpool a stiff test when they meet at Anfield on Sunday.
He said: “They have great players like Arteta and Yakubu, and Cahill and Lescott are playing really well.
“They have a lot of players who have done well this season but the most important thing will be our players.
“I think the winner would be strong favourites to finish fourth. It is a really important game and if we beat them then I think it will make the difference.”