Benitez uncertain over Aquilani

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez admits he must assess the risk of using Italian midfielder Alberto Aquilani in tonight’s critical Barclays Premier League clash at Aston Villa.

The £20m summer signing from Roma finally made his first Barclays Premier League start in Liverpool’s 2-0 victory over Wolves.

He has struggled with fitness and injury all season and had to be substituted with six minutes to go on St Stephen's Day complaining of a hamstring problem.

Benitez is aware that although Aquilani adds flair and creativity, he has been considered too lightweight at times for the English game during his opening months at Anfield.

Benitez said: “Aquilani did well against Wolves, but he needs match fitness. He was trying to be involved, passing and creating chances, but the Premier League is difficult and he will settle down little by little.

“It is a difficult decision with the Villa game coming so quickly. Some of our players were very tired after the Wolves match, while some had little injuries. We will need to assess them all.

“We will have to manage them carefully but clearly if Javier Mascherano is not available for the next three games through suspension, then Aquilani will obviously have more chance of time on the pitch.

“But against Wolves he was worried about his hamstring, he was concerned and I wanted to protect him. That is why we took him off.”

Benitez would prefer to utilise two holding midfield men in what promises to be a tough match against Villa.

Lucas was troubled by a stomach upset ahead of the Wolves match and Liverpool looked weak in midfield at times.

Benitez could solve that problem by playing Steven Gerrard in a deeper role.

The Spaniard said: “Maybe we would normally have two holding players for such a game, but we have options. Gerrard can play in that role, we will see.

“Lucas was tiring against Wolves, he was not well, but now we must see how he recovers and whether he can have more energy now. It all depends on how the players feel and react after the Wolves game.”

More in this Section

Thierry Henry sends message of support to Norwich kidney transplant youngsterThierry Henry sends message of support to Norwich kidney transplant youngster

Simon Jordan claims Premier League players are resisting pressure for a pay cutSimon Jordan claims Premier League players are resisting pressure for a pay cut

More FIFA bribe claims tabled in US courtMore FIFA bribe claims tabled in US court

Former Real, Atletico, and Barcelona boss Radomir Antic diesFormer Real, Atletico, and Barcelona boss Radomir Antic dies


Lifestyle

Dr Gero Baiarda dispels the biggest misconceptions.10 coronavirus myths tackled by a GP

Indulging in a little comfort eating lately? Worry not – with Easter just around the corner Maresa Fagan looks at how chocolate can be good for your heart, head, and healthFive genuine health reasons to enjoy chocolate this Easter weekend

Currently digging your garden up? You’ve got the ‘grow your own’ bug.11 things you’ll know if you’ve suddenly become obsessed with growing your own

IN TIMES like these, when we are stuck in our houses, going out just for exercise and groceries, it can feel harder to find inspiration and motivation to make the most of the food we have already in our cupboards, fridges and pantries.Currabinny Cooks: Making the most of store cupboard ‘essentials’

More From The Irish Examiner