Liverpool have been left reeling by the news that star striker Fernando Torres is facing six weeks on the sidelines as he requires knee surgery on a torn cartilage.

To add to beleaguered manager Rafa Benitez’s woes, captain Steven Gerrard will be out for a fortnight with a hamstring strain and Yossi Benayoun could miss the next month with a fractured rib.

The Reds’ miserable season hit a new low on Wednesday night as they crashed out of the FA Cup at home to Reading with the Championship outfit claiming a deserved extra-time victory in their third round replay.

With Liverpool already eliminated from the UEFA Champions League and badly off the pace in the Premier League, a season which promised so much is rapidly being plunged into chaos.

Benitez’s men face a real battle to finish in the top four to secure a return to European football’s top table, are out of the Carling Cup and have only the scant consolation of the Europa League to aim for in the silverware stakes.

The loss of star striker Torres for an extended period will put further pressure on the Anfield outfit as they aim to improve on their current position of seventh in the table, five points adrift of Manchester City in fourth.

Torn cartilage

Torres was withdrawn from the action during the first half of the dismal Royals defeat while Gerrard did not emerge for the second period.

Both players were sent for scans and the club have now confirmed their absences, plus the injury blow suffered by Israeli midfielder Benayoun.

A spokesman told the club’s official website: “Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres both underwent scans earlier today after coming off in the FA Cup tie against Reading.

“Steven has a hamstring strain and will be out for a fortnight, while Fernando has torn a cartilage in his right knee. The injury will require surgery and he is expected to be sidelined for six weeks.

“Yossi Benayoun also suffered a fractured rib in the game and will be unavailable for between three and four weeks.”