Aquilani offered Rafa backing

Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez has admitted that big-money signing Alberto Aquilani is still struggling to make his mark, having seen his first season in England ruined by injury.

The £20million summer signing from Roma has been plagued by knee problems and has started just seven games for the Reds to date, while he has been left on the bench for the last three games.

Benitez commented:"When you have been injured for a while, it's not easy for a player.

"Then when you are available and the team isn't doing well, it makes it even more difficult.

"You have to decide if you can afford to give him two or three games when you know he's maybe not at the level he could be, so you could end up losing some of them.

"Alberto isn't stupid. He knows the priority now has to be the team and what's best for them. All he can do is keep training and making sure he is ready when we need him.

"We have had a conversation about things and he knows the situation. Alberto is a very good professional, who was a big name in Italy, and he wants to show his quality here.

"When you're like that, but cannot play for three or four months and then you're available but can't play because the team is maybe doing really well or has problems, it's a difficult situation for any professional."

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