Just how important is Glen Johnson to Liverpool?

The England international full-back is on the sidelines currently, with Brendan Rodgers facing a dilemma with who to play in his place.

Glen Johnson has been first-choice right-back for club and country over the last number of seasons, and his absence is being felt by Liverpool currently. The former Chelsea defender is making strides to get back to training after an ankle injury, and Brendan Rodgers will hope to call upon him sooner rather than later.

In Johnson’s absence, Liverpool have relinquished their unbeaten Premier League record by drawing with Swansea and getting beaten unexpectedly at home by Southampton.

Although Johnson’s absence was not the overriding factor for the dropped points, without him Liverpool look like a less-rounded team.

Rodgers has opted for two different players to replace Johnson since he has been sidelined, with limited positive influence. Andre Wisdom featured at the Liberty Stadium, and although he has all the raw attributes to become a consistent Premier League player, still needs time to mature. The England under-21 man is certainly a prospect, but does not seem ready to play week-in, week-out for a Reds side chasing a top-four spot.

Kolo Toure was deployed at full-back against Southampton, and put in a solid performance. The Ivory Coast international is a strong defender, but is more comfortable at centre-half. He tried his best to get forward, but lacks the attacking intent that Johnson offers and as such Liverpool are weakened as a result.

Jordan Henderson has been used on the right-hand side of a 4-2-3-1 formation more often than not of late by Rodgers, and the ex-Sunderland man has a tendency to drift in-field to pick the ball up and get more involved. As such, the overlapping Johnson helps to give the Anfield side width and an extra attacking threat.

One of Liverpool strengths is that in Johnson and Jose Enrique they have two of the most adept attacking full-backs in the division at their disposal. With the likes of Henderson and Philippe Coutinho eager to play more centrally, having this pair in the line-up helps the Reds keep their width.

Johnson’s current contract is set to expire in the summer of 2015 and there are rumblings today in the British press that the Merseysiders will wait to the end of the season to negotiate a new deal. Other sources suggest that the England international will be asked to take a pay cut.

Despite the new faces at Liverpool and the emphasis on youth, Johnson’s positive influence cannot be understated. He is an essential man in a Liverpool side that are looking to get back amongst the honours and the Anfield side would be foolish to downplay his importance to their cause.

image: © ekilby

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