Alex McLeish wants Aston Villa players to prove their worth

Aston Villa boss Alex McLeish has called on his players to prove they are worthy of playing for the club.

McLeish watched his side slump to a 2-0 defeat at the hands of Liverpool on Sunday - their fifth loss of the season.

Villa have won only one of their last five games and McLeish has demanded and improvement.

The Scot said: "They must realise this is a massive club and they have to show why they're at this club."

Liverpool got off to a flying start and caught Villa with two goals in the first 15 minutes from Craig Bellamy and Martin Skrtel.

Both goals came from corners and McLeish bemoaned his side's lack of concentration that gifted the Reds an early lead while also criticising their passing.

"The goals that we lost were pretty shocking. We shouldn't be losing goals like that at set-pieces. We have to look at that seriously on the training ground.

"The fans are calling on me to change this and that, but it's difficult for me if the boys can't make the passes and simple passes. That might be because of the way the games was going and they lost some spark."

One thing that I know about this team is that they bounce back quite well and I wouldn't put it against them to bounce back straight away

Alex McLeish

With Darren Bent missing through injury and Gabriel Agbonlahor suspended, Villa lacked firepower up front as Emile Heskey and Nathan Delfouneso failed to make an impact leading the line.

Chris Herd was also absent from midfield and McLeish felt the loss of three players had an obvious effect.

"We lacked a cutting edge with two big strikers missing. We lost three players who have been vital and when you lose that calibre it can hurt you."

The Aston Villa boss faces a Christmas period that includes hosting Arsenal and visiting Stoke and Chelsea, and has predicted his side will bounce back.

"We're seeking stability at this club," he added. "It's difficult to get consistent when you're coming up against some of the giants every other game.

"One thing that I know about this team is that they bounce back quite well and I wouldn't put it against them to bounce back straight away."

Dalglish encouraged by performance

Meanwhile, the victory for Liverpool moved them up to sixth in the Premier League table as they kept their sixth clean sheet of the campaign.

And manager Kenny Dalglish praised his players for their performance which gave him his first win away at Villa as Liverpool boss.

He said: "Hard work is a given at our place, hard work and a bit of class and you've got a bit of a chance.

"I thought we played really well. Every part of the team was playing well. Overall we made a lot of efforts on goal and importantly we had a shot out there."