Aquilani must prove himself
Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson has challenged midfielder Alberto Aquilani to prove his worth.
Last Updated: 24/07/10 12:58pm
Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson has challenged midfielder Alberto Aquilani to prove he is worth the money they paid for him.
Former Reds boss Rafa Benitez shelled out £17million for the Italian playmaker last summer as a replacement for Xabi Alonso, who moved to Real Madrid.
Aquilani, however, failed to recover from a serious injury all season, with Benitez lacking faith in the player's fitness and often leaving him on the bench.
The appointment of Hodgson, however, has seen a new opportunity for the 26-year-old to make an impression and show his fitness, and the new Reds boss admits he has been impressed with what he has seen so far.
"We have done a lot of tactical work with our fitness people but we've only really scratched the surface," said Hodgson.
"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 problems behind him. What I have seen in the last three weeks working with him has been encouraging and he's working well."
Another player hoping to establish himself at the club is French striker David N'Gog.
The youngster was often used as a lone striker by Benitez last season in place of Fernando Torres, who spent a frustrating amount of time on the sidelines for the club.
But N'Gog believes he has a future at Anfield despite only showing glimpses of his talent at times and has been linked with a move to West Brom.
"I know speculation is part of football and we have to deal with it. If we bring in new players, it is good for the team," said N'Gog.
"But I am a Liverpool player. I want to be involved in the first team at Liverpool.
"My confidence is good. Now I have to do my job and give my best for the team.
"I am more experienced now and I want to be involved, play as many games as I can and score goals to help the team win.
"The club had a difficult season last year but I want to prove we can get back into the top four. I am confident about this."