Leaders hopeful of two key comebacks

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Football News

Rafael Benitez is close to a return to the Liverpool dugout while striker Fernando Torres is also inching his way towards a comeback.

The Liverpool manager missed another media briefing on Tuesday as he recovers from a kidney stones operation, but he is expected back on the bench for the Boxing Day home clash with Bolton.

That date may well be too soon for Torres' return from a hamstring injury, but assistant boss Sammy Lee said: "Fernando's progressed has markedly improved. He is getting better. He improves with every training session and he has worked very hard on his rehabilitation. We will put him in when we see fit, that's not evasive but I don't want to start revealing our line-up."

Liverpool go into the Lancashire derby top of the Barclays Premier League, and protecting an unbeaten home league record in 2008.

It is the first time Liverpool have been top at this stage since 1996, and two wins over the holiday period against Bolton first and then at Newcastle on Sunday will give them their best points tally in a calendar year for 19 years.

Of Benitez's fitness, Lee said: "Rafa is a lot better, he's on the mend. He has been in a lot of pain but he is improving.

"His presence is always missed, but the organisation he has put in place is such that even though he has not been here this week, the battle plan is still there.

"We know what we have to do, the game plan is there, it is business as usual.

"He is missed and hopefully he will be back with us for the Bolton game."

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Bolton Wanderers
Premier League
Fernando Torres

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