Fernando Torres is raring to go once more after a reluctant break from action over the past fortnight.

The striker, currently sporting a protective mask, was not selected for international duty by Spain coach Vicente del Bosque, meaning he was able to take a prolonged rest for the first time this season, and now has four key games in nine days in his sights.

‘It was relaxing but everyone wants to be involved with the national team and not have this time available,’ Torres admitted. ‘It was a good break and I enjoyed it with my family and had some rest, and now I’m ready for the next challenge.’

That means Southampton this afternoon, followed by Manchester United in the FA Cup on Monday before we host Rubin Kazan in the Europa League on Thursday. We then entertain Sunderland at Stamford Bridge next Sunday.

‘The fixtures are crazy, someone probably needs to look at it,’ the 29-year-old said. ‘In England I cannot understand why we start earlier than any league in the world, we finish only a week earlier and don’t stop over Christmas, yet we have games every three days.

‘We know we have to use all the squad now because we have too many games. Everyone needs to be ready and know we have to be a team to win the games. It’s no time to be thinking we can win 10 points out of 15 or whatever, we need all the points and then to win in the knockout competitions.’

Recent good results have seen us jump back into third place in the Barclays Premier League but Torres is clearly taking nothing for granted.

‘The team has been in good form in recent weeks. We have great players and they are there when the team need them, so it’s time for them to shine,’ he said.

‘From now until the end we are going to see good team performances. We know what we are playing for, and we want to win trophies.

‘We won two last season and we want to do the same again. To do that we have to beat Man United and Rubin Kazan, but not forget the league because also we want to be in the Champions League next season.’

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