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Benitez hopeful Xabi, Torres back for Liverpool

Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez is hopeful of having Xabi Alonso and Fernando Torres available for their Champions League clash with Besiktas.

The pair were left out of Saturday's derby victory at Everton.

But Benitez said afterwards: "They were both very, very close to playing. It would have been a risk I was not prepared to take to play them against Everton.

"I would now expect them to be in serious contention against Besiktas when we go to Istanbul (on Wednesday). I will watch them in training and make my decision after that."

The confidence boost of a controversial 2-1 win at Goodison Park has come at just the right time for Liverpool, after a worrying spell had seen them win just two of their previous seven games.

Benitez said: "That victory will do us a lot of good for the Istanbul trip and then next weekend's home game with Arsenal."

The Spaniard has happy memories of Istanbul, not just because of Liverpool's Champions League Final victory there two years ago.

While in charge of Valencia, Benitez masterminded a UEFA Cup victory at Besiktas in the season that saw his Spanish club won the trophy.

He said: "I have won there before, so I have no fears about them; it can be done again."

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Tribal Football Staff

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