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Liverpool boss Benitez: Aquilani close to start

Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez says Alberto Aquilani is close to required fitness for a Premiership start.

Despite being questioned for his lack of action so far, the Reds boss insists he is easing the player back to full fitness before giving him his chance.

"It's more simple than people think," Benitez told

"He has been out for longer than we expected and, because he has been injured during the summer, he couldn't train properly. Now it is much better and it is a case of improving his match fitness.

"We want to play him and we thought we might have been able to do that with the reserves at Wigan.

"That was called off (last week) but we had some games at Melwood and he played 45 minutes against our reserves last week. We are trying to improve him as quick as we can.

"But when you have a player who is not fit, he is always going to need time to settle in to a game; if the game is tight and he makes mistakes, then you have a problem.

"We want to protect the player but, at the same time, we want to keep winning games; he understands that he needs to be a little bit fitter before he can play."

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