Aquilani due for Liverpool derby role

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Liverpool striker Fernando Torres is likely to miss Sunday's match at near-neighbours Everton but midfielder Alberto Aquilani will be given his first taste of a Merseyside derby.

The Spain striker has sat out the last three matches with a groin problem and is probably still a week away from rejoining the squad.

Torres scored both goals in the 2-0 victory at Goodison Park last season to take his tally of goals to three in five derbies but David Ngog, with five this season, is in line to deputise again.

However, Aquilani will be hopeful of getting on the field after just three substitute appearances totalling just 22 minutes since returning to fitness after his £20million summer move from Roma.

Manager Rafael Benitez will not throw the Italian into what is likely to be another tempestuous clash between the two near-neighbours but the 25-year-old should play some part.

Former academy graduate Jay Spearing faces competition from Aquilani for a place in midfield but accepts the former Roma star will, in time, have a central part to play.

"You can tell he's a world class player," said Wirral-born Spearing.

"For him, I think it's just a matter of fitness and sharpness really.

"He's doing more and more each day in training and you can see that he's very clever with some of the passes that he plays. Hopefully he can bring that out into our first team."

Spearing added in LFC Weekly magazine: "The boss has given him 15 minutes here and there and I think that will do him good just to try to get used to the pace of the Premier League, because it will be completely different than in Italy."

The 212th Merseyside derby finds both teams in poor form but provides the opportunity for a much-needed morale-boosting win.

Liverpool have won just twice in 11 games, although at least they travel to Goodison on the back of a win in Hungary against Debrecen - even if that also coincided with their failure to qualify for the Champions League knock-out stages.

Everton have won one in the last 10 and slipped to a 3-2 defeat to Hull in the Premier League on Wednesday.

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