Sunday March 31, 2013 Kick off: 13:30 Day 31 Villa Park
Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert will welcome back a quartet of players but has fitness concerns over two others. Darren Bent (foot), Nathan Baker (head) and Karim El Ahmadi (ankle) are all in contention to face the Reds. Fabian Delph is available after a two-game suspension. Ciaran Clark and Brett Holman suffered shoulder and hamstring injuries while on international duty and will be assessed over the weekend.
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.
Paul Lambert: “Liverpool are a massive club. I know Brendan really well and have a lot of time for him. We came through the Championship together and had some great battles at Norwich and Swansea when we were there. Brendan has said, with his team, it will take three or four years to get where he wants to get it. It won’t be any different from here because we’re trying to build certain things. You don’t get time in football. But we want to try and change something and we are getting there, and I think the crowd are right behind it. They can see what is happening. The game is virtually sold out on Sunday so they are right with us.”
Brendan Rodgers: “We’re going to be light in that area. We have to assess it between now and the end of the season. That’s the one area of the field where we haven’t brought anyone in. We’ve brought midfield players and front players into the group, but as of yet there has been no one in that area. We’re going to lose Jamie, which is a big loss. There is no player that is irreplaceable but he’s a big loss. You see his experience and how he leads the line, and when you’re playing as a defender you need someone who is vocal in there who can organise the line. He does that remarkably well. But I’ve also got really good players here. Daniel Agger and Martin Skrtel – we’ve got some really, really good players. Between now and the end of the season we know we need to strengthen the group and that’s something we’ll look at doing. If it’s not something we’ve got in the group we may need that kind of character, who can organise and lead. That’s something we’ll have a look at.”