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Page last updated at 20:18 GMT, Wednesday, 21 October 2009 21:18 UK

Aquilani gives Reds timely boost

Alberto Aquilani
Aquilani had knee surgery before completing his move to Liverpool

Alberto Aquilani has played his first match for Liverpool, coming on for the last 15 minutes of the Reds' reserve game against Sunderland on Wednesday.

The Italian midfielder moved to Anfield for £20m from Roma in August, but has been recovering from knee surgery.

He told BBC Sport: "I am happy, because I have not played for a long time. It was only for 15 minutes, but it was important for me and my confidence."

Liverpool won the match at Tranmere's Prenton Park 2-0.

Aquilani, who played behind a lone striker, will not be rushed back for Sunday's visit of Manchester United.

Commentator Connor McNamara covered the match for BBC Radio 5 live and was impressed with Aquilani's brief showing.

"He is a tall, elegant player and didn't look at all rusty, despite his long lay-off," McNamara said.

"A 45-yard diagonal pass from the left full-back position to the right wing was the highlight of his display and it delighted the 100 or so Liverpool fans who were at Prenton Park.

"Xabi Alonso would have been delighted with that pass. Other than that, Aquilani was hungry for touches and had a silky first touch, which you would expect from a £20m player."

The 25-year-old, who has won 11 caps for Italy, was signed as a direct replacement for Xabi Alonso, who moved to Real Madrid in the summer.

Reserve team coach John McMahon said: "He's done well. There's a tendency if you do come on as a sub to do too much. He's obviously a quality player and knows where and when to receive the ball.

"He's come on and acquitted himself in a fantastic way. The medical people know what he can do now. He is pushing along nicely in training."

Earlier this month, manager Rafael Benitez said he was deliberately taking the Italian's progress slowly.

606: DEBATE

His return to full fitness would be a welcome boost for a Liverpool side who lie eighth in the Premier League table after losing four of their nine League matches so far this season.

Liverpool have major injury problems, with Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres once again doubtful with groin injuries for the weekend match and Albert Riera (hamstring) definitely out.

However, defender Glen Johnson (ankle) insists he has shrugged off his injury and will be fit to play.



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see also
Johnson eases Reds injury worries
21 Oct 09 |  Liverpool
Liverpool sign Aquilani from Roma
09 Aug 09 |  Liverpool


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