Liverpool's Spanish summer signings have yet to impress but assistant manager Colin Pascoe insists that does not mean they should be written off as not having a part to play.
Iago Aspas and Luis Alberto arrived from Celta Vigo and Sevilla for a combined fee of around €16 million and were expected to bolster squad options. However, together they have managed just 19 appearances with Aspas the only one to start in the Premier League (five times).
Pascoe admits they have taken a while to adapt to English football, but the pair may get a chance to show how much they have learned in Sunday's FA Cup third round visit of League One Oldham — who knocked out the Reds at Boundary Park just over 12 months ago — and Brendan Rodgers's assistant stressed today they should be given time to settle into their surroundings.
“Luis (Alberto) has found the pace of the Premier League hard but he and Iago are working well in training and the more they get used to the Premier League the better they get,” he said. “Alberto can play in a couple of positions. He can play wide or up front as a nine or as a 10 and if you asked him he would say a 10.
“We can tweak things if we have to and push him up there but we’re not going to put him at nine as we have Luis (Suarez) up there. Iago started the season well and obviously had his (thigh) injury. He has been working hard; he has to wait his turn like all the strikers do.
“He did well the other day (against Hull) and with the way he is training he is getting better. It is like any player, if they are British or foreign, you hope they gel together quickly but sometimes you need time to adapt to the Premier League.
“They know themselves sometimes they have to be patient. With Phil (Coutinho) playing well and Luis (Suarez) and Raheem (Sterling) doing well the team really picks itself on a lot of times.”
Pascoe is adamant after last year’s humbling at Boundary Park the Reds will not be taking anything for granted against tomorrow’s visitors. And he is confident the FA Cup will not affect the club’s priority of a top-four Premier League finish.
"The players are all focused and ready and the team we put out on Sunday will be ready to perform and it will be a strong team," he added. "Of course we want to get into the fourth round. The FA Cup is a fantastic trophy. In the history of Liverpool, we've won it seven times and we'll be looking to win it an eighth time. We've got a responsibility (to get results) all the time, when we go to play any game in the Premier League or the FA Cup, and it won't be any different on Sunday.
“It is not a distraction. The Premier League is week in, week out but the tradition of Liverpool and the tradition of the FA Cup mean we want to go out there and win it.”
Rodgers could come up against his son Anton, who joined Latics in the summer, and while Pascoe admits it will be a great family occasion he insists things have to remain professional. “When I was watching the game when they played Mansfield we (he and Rodgers) texted each other and said there was a chance Anton may be involved,” he said. “It will be a bit of fun for Brendan and Anton but we are focused on winning.”