• Italian included in Reds squad for Emirates fixture
• 'It it's possible, we will try to use him,' says Rafael Benítez
Alberto Aquilani could make his Liverpool first-team debut in the Carling Cup fourth-round tie at Arsenal after being included in the squad to travel to north London. The £20m Italian midfielder has been fully involved in Liverpool's training this week and looks set to feature at the Emirates Stadium tomorrow.
Aquilani played for 15 minutes of a reserve match last week, having been recovering from a knee operation since his arrival at the club in the summer. The Liverpool manager, Rafael Benítez, stated his intention to utilise the former Roma man against Arsenal, although he will not start, and believes Aquilani will add a new dimension to the Merseysiders' midfield.
"He will be with us," said Benítez. "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 Steven 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."
After spending his first two months in England on the sidelines, Aquilani is relishing the prospect of playing a part in Liverpool's season, having witnessed the atmosphere from the stands at Anfield during Sunday's 2-0 win over Manchester United.
"It was incredible to be at the stadium on Sunday," said Aquilani. "It was one of the best games I have seen so far. I don't normally like to watch a match inside a stadium when I am not playing, but I really enjoyed Sunday.
"When I was in Rome, although the stadium was bigger, it did not have the same atmosphere as here. Because the fans are closer to the pitch at Anfield, you can feel the atmosphere better. It was very important to win against United and hopefully it can give us more confidence."
While the 25-year-old acknowledges he is still short of match fitness, he is already relishing the prospect of a first-team bow, with Benítez likely to make a decision on the level of his involvement tomorrow.
"It was good to play for the reserves because I haven't played for a long time," he said. "But to play for the first team is something different again and I am looking forward to that. I really want to play, but I need to be patient, I know the time will come for me. 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."
With his first-team debut finally on the horizon, Aquilani was keen to thank his fellow players and the staff at the club's Melwood training ground for helping him settle into life on Merseyside.
"I want to thank all the players and the people at the club because they have been very helpful to me since I arrived here," he added. "Obviously as Andrea Dossena is here and speaks Italian, he has helped me, but I want to take the opportunity to thank every player. It has been difficult, but now I want to build up my confidence and I hope to bring out the best of my game here."
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