A claurs revival

Last updated : 21 January 2008 By Tom Vickers
At approximately 6:30pm on Saturday 11th August last year, Martin Laursen must have been considering his football future.
The Dane had just limped out of Villa's first match of the season, a sight which had epitomised his career with the Claret and Blue. To add to his misery, he had already scored the own goal that had put his team behind against a defensively dominant Liverpool side. He had hit rock bottom.
But, on Monday, Laursen will line up at Anfield in a celebratory mood. He has just been awarded a new two year contract at Villa park and it is certainly not through sympathy.
The centre back has been player of the season so far, scoring six goals and putting in a number of man of the match displays. He finds himself just a goal behind Villa's top scorer Gabby Agbonlahor, who himself is enjoying a fantastic campaign. This shows just how big the Dane has been for Martin O'Neill's men.
Laursen's new contract has been hard earned and well deserved. O'Neill has waited to see if his defender could cope with the demands of Premier League football and stay clear of the injuries that have blighted his career.
The extent of these constant setbacks is shown in the stat that says Laursen will make just his 50 league start in a three and a half year spell at Villa Park.
But he is back and more brilliant than ever. Adored by the Holte End faithful and admired by his team mates, Martin Laursen has made quite a turnaround since his last encounter against Liverpool.
The Reds have just one player missing for the big match on Monday night. Daniel Agger is out with a metatarsal injury so new signing Martin Skrtel is welcomed into the squad.
Steve Finnan and Javier Mascherano could return to the team that defeated Luton 5-0 in the F.A. Cup.
For Laursen's Villa, captain Gareth Barry could be out due to a pelvis injury and Scott Carson is ineligible due to the terms of his loan agreement.
It's a clash which will see the winner take 4th place, as Liverpool try to consolidate their Champions League ambitions. Villa have enjoyed an amazing season and a point at Anfield would be a big boost.
For Laursen, just the fact that he is playing is vital, but the lionheart of the Claret and Blue ranks will still want no more than a victory.
Come on you Villa boys!