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Hodgson tempted to take a gamble on Torres

Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson has some big calls to make in terms of his team selection for tomorrow's Premier League opener at home to Arsenal.

The likes of striker Fernando Torres, who has recovered well from an adductor injury, Spain counterpart Jose Reina and Holland pair Dirk Kuyt and Ryan Babel have yet to feature in any games as a result of their late return to training because of the World Cup final.

Reina will almost certainly take his place in goal but the selection of the others -- Torres in particular -- is something Hodgson must weigh up.

Liverpool face a trip to Manchester City next, after the clash against the Gunners, and know they cannot afford to drop too many points so early in the season.

But Hodgson has to look at the season as a whole and does not want to field players too early if it is likely to have repercussions later in the campaign.

The temptation will be to play Torres but even his own medical staff have told the Liverpool manager it is not the most sensible course of action.

"Do we take the risk of putting him in early or do we keep him back to go through a more strenuous pre-season programme?" mused Hodgson.

"Fernando has made a remarkable effort to get himself fit and ready for Premier League football and he has a chance but that has been played down by the sports science people who said in an ideal world he would have a longer preparation period.

"They are rightly concerned if he plays too early he could have a recurrence of a knee problem which could keep him out for longer.

"Of course the player's feelings also have to be taken into account so it is quite a delicate mixture.

"A large part of the work he has been doing has been outside of work with the team and has been much more geared to physical preparation and that is the major consideration."

The club's ownership battle looks like dragging on past the end of the transfer window after the board reviewed a number of proposed bids but admitted the outcome and timing of the sale was "uncertain".

A meeting in London yesterday assessed plans put forward by several potential new owners but no firm decision was made.

A statement read: "The board has reviewed a number of proposed bids for the club at a meeting.

"The board will continue to act in the best interests of Liverpool Football Club and its supporters, doing all it can to ensure that the club is ultimately sold to a buyer who has the resources and real commitment to give it a long-term, stable and secure funding position for its plans.

"The sale process is continuing. However, its timing and outcome remain uncertain. In the meantime, we will not comment on rumour and speculation."


Arsene Wenger admits no amount of hype can help prepare Arsenal defender Laurent Koscielny for his Premier League debut at Anfield tomorrow.

The unproven 24-year-old is set to partner Thomas Vermaelen at the heart of the Gunners rearguard following injury to Johan Djourou. It will certainly be a baptism of fire for the former Toures centre-back at one of the world's most intimidating venues.

Koscielny -- eligible for both Poland and France -- has turned in a couple of decent performances during pre-season for the Gunners, having moved in a £10m deal from Lorient.

Wenger is confident once the action gets under way the young centre-back will prove another shrewd acquisition.

"He will discover the Premier League tomorrow," the Arsenal manager said. "You can talk and talk, but at the end of the day the players show what they can do on the pitch and he will have an opportunity to do that."

Arsenal will assess the match fitness of World Cup finalists Cesc Fabregas and Robin van Persie, but Wenger hinted both could yet feature at Anfield.

Morocco striker Marouane Chamakh is another summer arrival in line to make his debut, with Denmark striker Nicklas Bendtner likely to be out for another month because of a groin injury.