Liverpool vs Aston Villa: Mario Balotelli to make first Anfield appearance as Adam Lallana returns for Reds debut - but they're not the only ones

No fewer than five players could make their Anfield debut this weekend with Lallana yet to play for the side he joined in the summer

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The Independent Football

After witnessing the debut of new marquee signing Mario Balotelli in the 3-0 victory over Tottenham last time out, Liverpool fans can look forward to his home debut when the Italian will be strutting his stuff at Anfield for the first time (in a red shirt).

But he won’t be the only summer addition to make his debut for the club this weekend, as £25m acquisition Adam Lallana could return from a lengthy lay-off that has disrupted his start to the season. The midfielder, who joined from Southampton early in the summer before heading to Brazil for the World Cup, is yet to play for his new club and also missed the two wins that England managed to conjure up during the recent international break.

The 25-year-old has been sidelined with a knee injury that he picked up just four days into his Liverpool career as he suffered lateral collateral ligament damage during a Reds training session.

While one England international returns, another has been ruled out. Striker Daniel Sturridge picked up a thigh strain while he was on international duty, and he looks set for a two week spell on the sidelines which could see him miss a number of key games for the Premier League contenders.


Manager Brendan Rodgers was hugely displeased with how the injury came about as he felt Sturridge should have been shown due care from the England set-up, but the absence of Sturridge could see Lallana handed an immediate start should Rodgers feel that he is up to speed.

Lallana’s former Southampton team-mate Rickie Lambert is also in the running to replace Sturridge should Rodgers choose to stick with two up front, and the childhood Reds fan is yet to make his first start for the club after coming off the bench against Saints and Manchester City.

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But it’s not just Balotelli and Lallana who could be making their debuts this weekend. In fact, Liverpool fans could see another three players in action for the first time on Merseyside.

Left-back Alberto Moreno has had a rollercoaster start to life with Liverpool. Having made his debut against Manchester City in which his error of judgement allowed Stevan Jovetic to score the opener, the Spaniard recovered to score a magnificent individual effort in the 3-0 win over Spurs.

Liverpool joined Liverpool from Southampton for £25m

While Moreno is likely to start, Lazar Markovic is likely to be named on the bench, but it would not be a surprise to see him introduced at some point having come off the bench in their last two matches. While the Serbian is earmarked as a star of the future, there’s no doubting that he can have an impact immediately, such was the high level of his displays during his time with Benfica.

Joining Markovic in the role of impact players is central midfielder Emre Can, who was a £10m addition early in the summer. The German has also emerged from the substitutes in the defeat to City and the victory at White Hart Lane, and he’ll be eager to show what he can do when given the opportunity.

Rodgers has elected to field Joe Allen as part of the midfield trio alongside regulars Jordan Henderson and captain Steven Gerrard, and Can will have to oust Allen before he can set his sights on locking down a first-team spot for the foreseeable future. Rodgers also has Lucas Leiva and Philippe Coutinho to choose from to fill the advanced role in his midfield trio.