Liverpool 'will be ready for Atletico'

LIVERPOOL, England - Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez insists his team will be fully prepared for their Europa League semifinal first-leg match at Atletico Madrid tomorrow, despite their travel plans being disrupted.

LIVERPOOL, England - Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez insists his team will be fully prepared for their Europa League semifinal first-leg match at Atletico Madrid tomorrow, despite their travel plans being disrupted.

UEFA confirmed on Friday that the game will go ahead even though clubs' travel plans have been wrecked by the cloud of volcanic ash over Iceland.

The Reds were due to get a train to London yesterday with the prospect of flying on to Spain or taking a further train as far as Bordeaux and flying from there.

Benitez was annoyed at having to play against West Ham on Monday night, a match the Reds won 3-0, but is adamant that his players will be ready to take on Atletico.

He said: "There are not too many options but it could have been called off. But we have to manage now."

He said the travel plans were well organised "so we'll have some time and we have to be there early but we can do it".

"The people are working behind the scenes preparing everything and they are doing a good job," Benitez added.

Star striker Fernando Torres has been ruled out for the rest of the season after undergoing surgery on his knee.

Benitez is sure that the striker will be ready to feature for Spain at the World Cup in South Africa in June.

"I don't know of any surgeon that says after an operation that it hasn't been a success," he said.

David Ngog scored his first Premier League goal of the calendar year in the victory over West Ham.

Benitez is sure that Ngog will not let himself down if he gets the chance to feature against Atletico and is refusing to give up on fourth place despite trailing Tottenham Hotspur, who have a game in hand, by five points. - Sapa-AFP

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