The young defender is set to spend another extended period on the treatment table, leaving Liverpool with a big decision to make.
The young full-back has been forced to undergo another knee operation, which is likely to see him miss several more months after initially suffering the injury in the club’s pre-season tour of America.
It is massively disappointing for the defender after his breakthrough season last year when he performed excellently in the right-back spot as the Reds narrowly missed out on the Premier League title; his goal against Tottenham a particular highlight.
However, his injury may force the club into offering Johnson a new deal given their lack of quality elsewhere in the position. The veteran is out of contract in the summer and looks set to leave, but Flanagan’s injury changes the outlook somewhat.
The other option is Javi Manquillo, currently on loan from Atletico Madrid, but he has failed to establish himself in his first season on Merseyside. The 20-year-old was impressive at the start of the campaign but has since fallen away following the change to a formation with three central defenders.
Emre Can was used in the position in the FA Cup semi-final loss to Aston Villa but looked lost and uncomfortable. It is evident he is not a defender and with Steven Gerrard leaving in the summer, midfield is where Can’s future should lie.
That leaves Johnson. The defender has incurred the wrath of the Liverpool fan base after an uninspiring season but is clearly trusted by manager Brendan Rodgers. In his prime he was one of the top full-backs in the league, but those days are long gone.
He does, however, remain a perfectly suitable back-up option, with his experience likely to be invaluable in a young Liverpool squad. A squad that is, of course, losing the experience and know-how Gerrard brings to any side.
The summer will also be a busy one for the club, and money will have to be spent wisely. Are there sufficient funds to go searching for a new full-back when the money needs to be spent drastically elsewhere? You suspect not.
And in that regard, Flanagan’s injury may just see Liverpool looking to keep hold of Johnson for a little while longer.
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