With the international break over, Liverpool's league campaign once again takes centre stage, with the club preparing to face Aston Villa on Sunday as the season enters its final stretch. And today, first team coach Mika Marsh confirmed that two players who missed out on the loss to Southampton two weekends ago will be ready to go this time around.
"They're both available for selection," said Marsh of Jamie Carragher and Pepe Reina, both of whom will now be favourites to start against Aston Villa. Reina, of course, was fit enough to head off on international duty with Spain, though he was left out of the starting lineup in favour of Victor Valdes and there had been some concern at Liverpool about the possibility of a relapse.
As for Carragher, though few would have guessed it at the start of the season, of the two returning players, his is the return that seems more integral to Liverpool's chances. With the centre back's embrace of Brendan Rodgers' pass and move mantra and Martin Skrtel continuing to look out of sorts against Southampton, Carragher's return should lead to a far more solid backline on Sunday.
When it comes to Reina, though, Brad Jones has once again stepped in and shown himself to be more than adequate in a season that has seen Liverpool's number one struggle through a series of minor injuries—and as a result participate in fewer league games than ever before in his career in England.
Yet despite Jones' capable deputising, there's little doubt that Liverpool's chances against Aston Villa improve with Reina back in the starting eleven. And after Marsh spent the international break nervously watching the club's players out with their national teams, the good news is that everybody else who went into the break healthy will be good to go on Sunday, too.
"I've got to be honest," added Marsh. "I'm watching the games and [only] hoping that the players come back fit and well. You do want the players that are representing their country to get a positive result, [but] I'm more concerned that when they come back to Melwood that they're fit and ready to play at the weekend."
It hasn't always been the case in the past, but this time around it looks like Marsh's wish—and the wish of Liverpool fans everywhere—has been granted.
Read More: Jones: I Want to Play Until I'm 40