Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres will not be picked for friendlies says Rafael Benitez
England travel to Doha to play Brazil next week while Spain host Argentina, and Benitez maintains that neither player is anywhere near fit enough to feature due to their respective groin injuries. The Spaniard has held discussions with Spanish FA officials and believes he has an agreement that Torres will not be called up. Although Benitez has not held similar conversations with England over Gerrard's fitness, his attitude is that the Liverpool captain has been sidelined for too long to be a serious option for Fabio Capello. Related ArticlesFernando Torres in contention for Birmingham clashLiverpool's Torres dilemmaArsene Wenger backs Rafa BenitezGiants facing eliminationFernando Torres has tests at Liverpool hospitalXabi Alonso defends Rafael BenitezBoth players are still struggling to be fit for Liverpool's Premier League contest against Birmingham on Monday. There has been good news for Benitez on the injury front, however, with Fabio Aurelio, Albert Riera and Martin Skrtel back in training. "The injury situation is improving, several players have been in light training and hopefully they will be able to do more over the next few days," he said. "Then we will see whether they can be available. There is a big difference, though, between being fit and being available. "For example, yesterday Gerrard was training and working with the physios. Will he be fit or just available? We don't know yet. "That is something we will have to look at. For 15 days he has been without training, so can he play? At the moment I do not know. "Torres has been to Spain to see a specialist and we have discussed it all with our medical staff. He is a little better than he was before. He will train and work with the physios. Whether he will be okay to play against Birmingham, we do not know that either, yet. "He could play and we must be careful with him. We will look at the situation after every training session. "I have talked to the Spanish people, their technical director and their fitness coach. They have talked to the Spanish manager and they all know that Fernando has to work hard with the physios to improve his condition. "Let us see how we do in the next game, then they will have 15 days of the international break to get fit, then let's see how they are after that. "I have discussed this all with the Spanish staff, it is not an agreement but they know the situation and they know he should not be involved. "I have not spoken to the England staff, but they will surely know that Steven has not trained for two weeks and clearly cannot be fit for a friendly." Benitez added that he had been shocked by the condemnation he had been subjected to regarding his decisions over whether to play Torres. "I have been very surprised by the criticism of my decisions," he continued. People can see that Fernando is not fit. We have had to decide how long he can play and when he must stop." "Sometimes it is clear he is not fully fit. But he is improving. He was much better after playing and scoring against Manchester United, and he was better still after playing and scoring against Fulham. "And he played for 87 minutes against Lyon, he is still improving. It is not the same assessment for Gerrard, he has not been training with the team. "It is totally different because he is clearly not fit and he will need time."
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