We've waited awhile to get a glimpse of Adam Lallana in a Liverpool shirt, with prolonged negotiations and a knee injury conspiring first to delay his announcement until after the World Cup and then to rule him out for the entirety of Liverpool's preseason preparations. He's missed the first three league matches as well, and with Philippe Coutinho's form dipping slightly in the first few weeks, Lallana's absence was felt despite the fact that he's never actually featured in any sort of match--other than a closed-doors one--for Liverpool.
Mario Balotelli has, of course, made his debut, with 60 good minutes against Spurs in the books and more expected to follow in the coming weeks. Like Lallana, though, there were questions as to whether or not he'd feature tomorrow against Aston Villa. With the Englishman it's a matter of match fitness, while Balotelli had reportedly been kept away from the squad on Thursday due to illness.
Good news, then, that Brendan Rodgers expects both to be available tomorrow evening:
"Mario has had a bit of a bug that we wanted to make sure he didn’t spread around the group. But he’ll be okay for Saturday. I think he has felt the warmth of the club since he’s been here and I’m sure he will look forward to playing at Anfield. He isn’t the only one. The same goes for the likes of Lazar Markovic and Adam Lallana who will also be involved.
"(Lallana) has looked very good. He is obviously short of match fitness, but the only way he is going to get that is by playing. He featured in the game we had here at Melwood against Wolves behind closed doors, scored the winning goal and did very well. In training he's worked very, very hard. It's just about him getting the minutes and the game time, and we'll look forward to introducing him back to that over the next couple of weeks."
As discussed in the preview, it's possible that all three of the names mentioned above feature from the start; rumors have Raheem Sterling getting a rest after a busy start to the season for Liverpool and England, which would open up the door for Lazar Markovic's first start, while the possible absence of Joe Allen gives Lallana a spot straightaway. Balotelli is all but nailed on if Rodgers' go-ahead is genuine, with the only uncertainty now as to whether or not he'll operate as a lone striker or with the direct support of Rickie Lambert or Fabio Borini.