Daniel Agger has admitted that his persistent injury problems forced him to consider retirement, but the Liverpool defender is now well on course for a first-team return.
Agger has not played for Liverpool this season after undergoing back surgery during the summer but, after playing in a reserve game against Manchester City last week, he was included on the bench for Sunday's Premier League defeat to Chelsea.
A number of injury problems have afflicted Agger since his move from Brondby in January 2006 and the latest issue caused him to consider his future, the 24-year-old has admitted in a startling confession.
"My back was hurting so badly that I considered stopping playing," Agger told Jyllandsposten. "I asked myself if it was worth continuing playing. When you can't even lift your own child out of bed, then something is terribly wrong."
Agger's imminent return to first-team action will be warmly welcomed by Rafael Benitez as Liverpool have looked vulnerable in defence at times this season, with the form of Jamie Carragher a particular concern.
Defeat to Chelsea on Sunday saw Liverpool record their third loss in eight games this season and led many to speculate on whether the Merseysiders will be able to mount a title challenge. Central to their problems has been a lack of creativity in midfield following Xabi Alonso's exit but his replacement, Alberto Aquilani, is nearing a return to fitness.
An ankle injury has so far prevented the £20 million signing from Roma from making his debut but Benitez is happy with his progress and it is reported that Aquilani could make his debut in the Carling Cup tie with Arsenal on October 28.
"I have been speaking to the doctors and things are going well with him," said Benitez. "Alberto is progressing all the time. It could be two to three weeks before he is back. But we need to use caution. If it is two weeks everyone will say 'that is fantastic' but if it is three, everyone will say it is not a problem. I think that we have to be careful."