Defender's return a timely boost for Liverpool

Liverpool's first choice right-back has returned to full training and could start against Newcastle at the weekend.

Liverpool right-back Glen Johnson looks set to be returning to the side in the near future after reporting for full training. Manager Brendan Rodgers has repeatedly stated that Johnson is a player whose importance is not realised until he’s not playing.

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Before Johnson picked up his injury in the 1-0 win against Manchester United at the start of September, Liverpool were operating with a back four and have since moved to a back three with wing-backs pushing on into the midfield.

In the early part of his Anfield career, Johnson was repeatedly criticised for his defending with some of his detractors suggesting that he should be played more as a winger, rather than a defender, but over the years he has developed into a very fine, solid member of the rearguard.

Have Liverpool missed him in this current system?

The answer is yes. This is not to say that Jordan Henderson hasn’t done a good job as a right-back, if anything he should be praised for his versatility, but as expected he has not looked as accomplished in the role as one would expect Liverpool’s number two to be. Andre Wisdom and Kolo Toure have also played their part at right-back.

With Johnson returning to the side, Liverpool are going to have more of a degree of flexibility to switch easily to five, and someone who is naturally used to being in wide positions – and it wouldn’t be surprising to see Aly Cissokho come in on the other flank to balance things out.

Johnson’s Reds return is timely. It is expected that Brendan Rodgers will select the England international for the trip to Newcastle, with Liverpool facing a couple of fixtures that they will be expected to win in the trip to North East, and West Bromwich Albion at home before embarking on a difficult November and December – where they have the Merseyside derby at Goodison Park and away trips to four sides who have title ambitions this season.

His return is a massive plus for Brendan Rodgers’ side.

image: © kong niffe

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