Why Glen Johnson's return to fitness is a welcome boost for Liverpool

Glen Johnson (low quality)

Glen Johnson can take some of the strain off youngster Javier Manquillo - especially with Jon Flanagan also sidelined.

Liverpool right-back Glen Johnson returned to action this weekend in the Reds' 2-1 win over West Bromwich Albion in the Premier League.

Johnson has been out of action with a thigh injury he picked up on the second weekend of the season in a 3-1 defeat to Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium in August. 

The 30-year-old has not been in great form for the Reds over the past season or so. There have been times when he has lacked composure and come up with error strewn displays that has put an already fragile defence under more pressure. 

In Johnson's absence, young Spaniard Javier Manquillo - currently on loan from Atletico Madrid - has been the man taking over the duties at right-back, and has played every game in the absence of the 30-year-old.

The England international is something of a maligned figure amongst fans but his return could not have been timed better. 

Manquillo has done a pretty good job in Johnson's place. At the age of 20 he has shown great maturity and is a player who has looked quite comfortable on the ball, and recovers well against his opposing number - and has demonstrated he is more like former Liverpool defender Alvaro Arbeloa rather than Johnson. The one aspect that is concerning is just how much responsibility has been on the shoulders of Manquillo.

At the end of the day Manquillo is still a young player and still has a lot of development in him, and the last thing Brendan Rodgers will want to do is to give him too much responsibility and expose him too much. So far he has acquitted himself well, but if he was to come up with one or two errors, he could be used as a scapegoat in the future if things aren't going well for the side.

Johnson is a player who is far more experienced and more accustomed to the criticism that will head in his direction for any poor display. There is also the attacking element to his game which can prove crucial when Liverpool are trying to break down compact, defensive opposition down when they turn up at Anfield.

Another factor is the current injury to Jon Flanagan - which is said to keep him out of action until at least December. Cover in every position is vital if Liverpool are to improve on their stuttering start to the season, and Johnson also provides the experience of playing in the Champions League in the past. 

The Reds are entering a pretty crucial stage of the season. Two matches against Real Madrid in the Champions League which could make or break their campaign, a game in the League Cup whilst there some winnable league matches coming up as they look to position themselves in handily in the Premier League.

A senior option available to them who they know all about in terms of their strengths and limitations is vital for the Reds at the moment. Though talks over a new contract may have reached deadlock, and his form has been questionable, Johnson's return to fitness is welcome.

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