March 31, 2013
Four back for Villa
Team Stat Comparison
|Goals for *||1.2||2.0|
|Goals against *||1.5||1.4|
|Last 5 home||L-W-D-L-W||W-D-D-D-W|
|Last 5 away||D-W-L-W-W||W-W-D-W-L|
|* Goals per match - home matches for home club and away matches for away club|
|Stats: Aston Villa | Liverpool|
Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert will welcome back a quartet of players but has fitness concerns over two others for the home Barclays Premier League clash with Liverpool.
Darren Bent (foot), Nathan Baker (head) and Karim El Ahmadi (ankle) are all in contention to face the Reds while Fabian Delph is available after a two-game suspension.
But Ciaran Clark and Brett Holman suffered shoulder and hamstring injuries while on international duty and will be assessed over the weekend.
Lambert insists in-form strike duo Christian Benteke and Andreas Weimann will remain with the club next season.
Lambert knows keeping hold of the pair and other key players is vital as part of his long-term project to rebuild Villa - and he has the backing of club owner Randy Lerner.
It will be a reversal of Villa's trend in recent seasons of selling leading performers such as Gareth Barry, James Milner, Stewart Downing and Ashley Young.
Benteke has scored 17 goals since his £8million move last summer from Genk and the Belgium international has been linked with a host of clubs.
Weimann has netted 11 goals in his first full campaign of top-flight football and has been offered a new deal by Villa.
Lambert said: "Do I think Weimann and Benteke will be at Villa next season? Yes, yes. I think they want to be here. I've spoken to the lads as well and they've been great with it.
"There is no point in trying to build something if it (players) keep on going away. There is no point in coming in for one year and, after that, the lads go away again. I don't think that is building for any sort of future. Do I have the final say on it? Oh yes. I've got to - but Randy (Lerner) has been great with me.
"Everyone knows the situation. If players do well, then teams speak about them. Everyone knows the situation. Whether it is true or not or agents fabricate things remains to be seen.
"When I first came in here, we sat down and explained what I thought. Randy was right behind it, no problem at all.
"He has been excellent with us. There is no point in building something, if a year later it (a player) goes. I don't want to go back to square one.''
Liverpool have goalkeeper Jose Reina and defender Jamie Carragher fit again.
The pair missed the defeat at Southampton almost a fortnight ago with calf and shin injuries respectively but have subsequently recovered.
All players have returned from international duty without reporting any problems so it leaves only Fabio Borini, Joe Allen (both shoulder) and Martin Kelly (knee) absent.
Before the game manager Brendan Rodgers brushed off concerns about Luis Suarez's future by claiming comments made on international duty have "no great relevance to Liverpool''.
Ahead of World Cup qualifiers last week the 26-year-old gave an interview in his homeland which appeared to suggest he would listen to offers from Champions League clubs.
The Reds' managing director Ian Ayre was quick to dismiss the comments as getting lost in translation but Rodgers claims he paid them no attention.
"I haven't spoken to Luis yet,'' he said.
"All I am aware of is we have an outstanding player who has given everything for the club and he is very happy here.
"Every time he goes away, there is always something.
"I always say to players I have a simple rule: when you are with Liverpool just talk about Liverpool and when you are away with your international team concentrate on your international team so there is no drama.
"So what he says when he is with Uruguay is of no great relevance to Liverpool.''