Fernando Torres falls into the latter category. He will be a key part of the Spanish squad, going into the tournament with possibly their best ever chance of becoming world champions. His formidible partnership with David Villa makes them probably the deadliest strikeforce in international football.
Torres could have been forgiven for thinking that this year would be equally successful on the club front. Instead, Liverpool have toiled in the English Premier League and made an early exit from the Champions League. Their cause hasn’t been helped by knee and groin injuries which have meant that Torres has only appeared in 18 of a possible 29 league games during the current campaign. The fact he’s still managed to hit 13 goals this season shows how crucial he is to Liverpool, and how heavily they will rely on him during the remainder of the season.
However, given the number of matches he’s missed, Torres will be reluctant to gamble with his fitness, and may already have one eye on South Africa. Any further injuries could lead to him missing out on some, or all, of the World Cup. That concern may have been easier to put to one side had Liverpool still been in contention for the club game’s biggest prizes, but Torres only has a Europa League run and a fight to finish fourth in the league to look forward to – he could have done that at Atletico Madrid.
Torres is not the only player who will find himself in this situation in the coming months, and his professionalism is not in question. He’s not going to start ducking out of ’50-50′ tackles or pull his head back when the boots are flying in. However, he’s only human, and during the run-in when Liverpool need him more than ever, it’s only natural that at the back of his mind, he will be thinking of being fully fit to join up with his national side in the summer.