Hodgson challenges Aquilani: Prove you are good enough

July 24th, 2010

Aquilani has impressed his manager in Switzerland

Alberto Aquilani’s £17million transfer from Roma was the beginning of the end of Rafael Benitez’s reign at Anfield.

Now the Spaniard’s successor Roy Hodgson is insisting Liverpool’s forgotten man must put his injury hell behind him and prove he is worthy of playing for the club.

That is if the midfielder wants to play a part in Hodgson’s revolution as the new Liverpool manager looks to dramatically turn things around after a disastrous last season under their former boss.

Aquilani was left out of the Italy World Cup squad due to his lack of form but he has been offered a fresh start by Hodgson.

The 26-year-old is one of only three first-team squad members to have played a full role in Liverpool’s training camp in Switzerland, along with Lucas and David Ngog.

All three played in Wednesday’s goalless draw with FC Grasshopper in Zug and they will start again today when Hodgson names another fringe team for Liverpool’s second pre – season friendly against Kaiserslautern.

New signing Milan Jovanovic is expected to make his Liverpool debut but Hodgson will be looking for Aquilani to stamp his authority in Germany – and to play a crucial role in Thursday’s Europa League qualifier in Macedonia.

Without key men Steven Gerrard, Joe Cole and Dirk Kuyt, the Italian will be one of the few experienced players on show in Skopje when Liverpool face FK Rabotnicki in the first leg of their third round qualifying match.

Liverpool's Alberto Aquilani

Hodgson said: ‘We have done a lot of tactical work with our fitness people but we’ve only really scratched the surface.

‘Alberto has come out of it very well, as has Lucas, who is the only player who can really say he is a Liverpool first-team regular.

‘But Alberto has got to use this pre-season to put all his fitness troubles behind him. What I have seen in the last three weeks working with him has been encouraging and he’s working well.’

Benitez plumped for Aquilani to fill the gap left by Xabi Alonso after he joined Real Madrid 12 months ago. But he arrived from Italy with an ankle injury and it kept him out for three months. He did not make his Premier League debut until the second week of November.

However, Aqui lani’s injur y problems continued and he was out for several more weeks with a calf problem. By the time he scored his first goal, in the Europa League semi-final defeat by Atletico Madrid in May, it was too late for Liverpool and, as it turned out, for Benitez, now at Inter Milan.

Hodgson, meanwhile, was waiting until the last moment before handing in his Europa League squad to UEFA. The Liverpool boss was still trying to bring in a left back ahead of the midnight cut-off point, although he admitted such a late addition was ‘unrealistic’.

                                                                                      Source: daily mail

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