Alberto Aquilani debut against ArsenalRafael Benítez is ready to hand £17 million summer signing Alberto Aquilani his Liverpool debut as a second-half substitute against Arsenal in the Carling Cup tie at the Emirates Tonight.
The Liverpool manager, who is already without the injured Steven Gerrard and suspended Javier Mascherano, will rotate his squad for the fourth-round match against Arsène Wenger's team.
Italian midfielder Aquilani, 25, will travel as part of Benítez's first-team squad for the first time since his arrival from Roma in August.
Aquilani has been sidelined with a pre-existing knee injury since arriving on Merseyside, but the player emerged unscathed following a 15-minute appearance for the reserves last week and Benítez is now keen to step up his rehabilitation.
Benítez said: "Aquilani will be with us. He is improving his fitness, so he's in the squad. He cannot start at this moment, but he will be there and maybe we can give him some minutes. If it's possible, we will try to use him.
"We can see in every training session that he has quality, game intelligence and good movements. He is a different kind of player for us.
"We talk about using Gerrard deeper sometimes, but maybe in Aquilani, we have a player who can play there and pass the ball really well in the final third."
Signed as a replacement for Xabi Alonso, who left Anfield for Real Madrid during the summer, Aquilani admits he is relishing a first-team outing.
He said: "It was good to play for the reserves because I haven't played for a long time, but to play for the first-team is something different again and I am looking forward to that.
"I will be very happy when I make my debut. This is my job, it's what I am here to do, and I am looking forward to it."
Brazilian midfielder Lucas is likely to start against Arsenal and he admits that Liverpool must grasp the opportunity to progress in the Carling Cup.
He said: "We want to be in the final of all the competitions. We don't know what Rafa will do with his team selection, but we want to progress as much as we can in the Carling Cup.
"We know it will be a difficult game as Arsenal are playing some really good football at the moment. But we want to get through, so we have to produce another good performance like we did against Manchester United.
"With the confidence that we have now, we can show more quality than maybe we were doing when we were losing games." source