Aquilani: Villa game crucial

(GSM) – Italian midfielder Alberto Aquilani has termed Liverpool’s away game at Aston Villa as a ‘very important’ fixture to the club’s season.

The former Roma player is still acclimatising to the demands of English football as he made his first Premier League fixture for Liverpool in the Boxing Day win over Wolves, playing for most of the 90 minutes.

And he could start Tuesday’s trip to Villa Park, with the Reds currently five points behind their opponents, who also harbour hopes of qualifying for the UEFA Champions League.

With Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez expressing his confidence that the club can finish in the top four this season, Aquilani outlined the importance of the Villa game.

“I really enjoyed the game as it was important for me; I want to improve my fitness,” Aquilani told the Liverpool Echo after his start against Wolves.

“It was so different to anything I have experienced, as it was so quick and you never really had much time. The football we played was so fast.

“The most important thing, however, was that we won. We need to improve our confidence and we need to keep winning games to move up the table.

“It is crucial to take things step by step, but our aim is now to win three, four and five games in a row. If we can do that, we will see where that takes us.

“Now we have to face Aston Villa and it is a very important game for our season, but we are feeling good and it is important that we try to win.”

The midfielder’s fitness will be assessed before the match, with Benitez wary about demanding too much from the £20million man.

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.” (Soccerway/rex)


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