Rafael Benitez has come out in defence of Fernando Torres once more, by claiming the Chelsea striker is a very effective defender.

Recently appointed interim manager at Stamford Bridge, Benitez has inherited the problem of Torres’ goal drought – he has not scored in the Premier League for two months – and their previous successes at Liverpool have given hope ‘el Niño’ can rediscover his best form.

Torres hasn’t scored for over 12 hours now but Benitez’s assessment of his problems and the way to rectify them were not exactly detailed.

“Fernando is a great player and his team-mates know this,” Benitez said.

“If he is in the right position they'll play the ball to him. If he's not, maybe they won't.”

The former Valencia manager appeared enthused by what he has seen on the training ground from the 28-year-old, but he then also felt the need to praise Torres’ defensive work.

“All I can do is see things on the pitch and on the training ground, and Fernando is doing really well,” he added.

“He scored a lot in training yesterday but it's not just about the goals. For example, we have changed his position for corners against us and he was amazing.

“I don't know if Gary Neville has analysed this but two or three times now Fernando has cleared the ball. He is really good at that, helping the team to defend.”

Torres’ work in defensive areas may well be very good, but it feels like damning with faint praise to a striker.

Chelsea have a crucial Champions League clash on Wednesday against FC Nordsjaelland, which they must win to have any chance of making it into the knockout stages.

A win may not be enough though, as group leaders Shakhtar Donetsk must also defeat Juventus in Ukraine if the Blues are to avoid dropping into the Europa League.

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