Mascherano hails talisman Torres

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Football News

Liverpool midfielder Javier Mascherano believes having Fernando Torres back in the starting XI gives the side a significant psychological advantage.

The Spain international has been sorely missed in the last six weeks after being sidelined with a hernia problem. However, the 25-year-old came off the bench against Wigan on Wednesday night to score what turned out to be the winner on his 100th appearance for the club.

"It is so important for us that Fernando stays fit," said Mascherano. "We know that we can win games when he is not playing but, equally, when he is on the pitch, you can see the respect that other teams give him."

He added: "He causes them so many problems. With Fernando and Stevie (Gerrard) on the pitch, we know that there is always a chance something special can happen.

"It is so good for our team and the confidence they give us. When they are not in the squad, others have to do their job and David Ngog has been doing his job really well."

Ngog is still learning what it takes to be Torres' deputy, but is showing signs of progression.

The Frenchman opened the scoring in the 10th minute with his sixth goal in 15 matches, of which only eight have been starts.

However, his statistics are dwarfed by those of Torres. His bundled effort against the Latics was his 61st goal for Liverpool in a century of appearances.

It was also his 49th goal in 69 Barclays Premier League matches and he is destined to go into the history books as the fastest Liverpool player to a half-century in the league.

Copyright (c) PA Sport 2009, All Rights Reserved.

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