Aston Villa have been dealt a major selection boost ahead of the club’s clash with Liverpool tomorrow evening after Ross Barkley was confirmed as in contention to make his Villa debut by manager Dean Smith.
Barkley, 26, joined the Midland’s outfit earlier this week after completing a one-year loan deal from Chelsea.
Smith confirmed that the former Everton star and England international was in contention to feature against Jurgen Klopp’s Premier League champions on Sunday.
“Ross Barkley is in my thoughts. The reason he’s come in is to play games. He thought he might not get the game time he desired at Chelsea. He wants to get the minutes in and he wants to play,” said Smith.
On the visiting champions, Smith added: “Their cumulative record over the past two seasons is incredible with the points tally that they’ve got. Them and Manchester City have been way out ahead of everybody over the last two years.”
The news is obviously a boost for Villa, who like Liverpool, have made a 100 per cent start to the new Premier League season. Barkley clocked up 31 appearances for Chelsea last season scoring five times under Frank Lampard while providing the same number of assists.
Liverpool weren’t without their own selection boosts ahead of the game after it was revealed that club-captain Jordan Henderson was back in training on Friday and is awaiting a late fitness assessment to deem whether the skipper is ready to make a return at Villa Park.
The 30-year-old missed Liverpool’s last three games due to a muscle problem sustained during the 2-0 victory at Chelsea last month, with his readiness to face an in-form Villa side dependent on his progress in training ahead of the trip to the Midlands.
“Hendo will be part of parts of the training today. He will start with warming up, maybe some passing, maybe some rondos, we will see as a first step,” Jürgen Klopp explained on Friday.
“He has absolutely no muscle issues. It is all fine, he is not injured anymore, so now we have to make sure he can make the next step. What that means for the weekend, I don’t know.”
The Liverpool reported no fresh fitness concerns during his Friday press conference, although Thiago Alcantara, Joel Matip, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Kostas Tsimikas remain unavailable while Sadio Mane is now self-isolating after testing positive for COVID-19.
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