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Saturday, 19 October 2013

News Media Watch from Liverpool FC: Echo: 'Johnson return a massive boost'

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Echo: 'Johnson return a massive boost'
Oct 19th 2013, 09:50

This story has been reproduced from today's media. It does not necessarily represent the position of Liverpool Football Club.

The past seven weeks have given Brendan Rodgers an even greater appreciation of Glen Johnson's talents.

Liverpool have coped admirably in the absence of the England right-back, but the Anfield boss has no doubt they will be a much stronger unit with Johnson back on board.

The 29-year-old, who limped out of last month's victory over Manchester United with an ankle injury after a crunching tackle on Patrice Evra, is set to make his comeback against Newcastle United at St James' Park today.

Glen will certainly be back in the squad," Rodgers told the ECHO. "You don't realise how much you miss someone like Glen until he's not playing. When he's not there, you really see what you are missing. He plays so many games and you just take it for granted that he's a superb athlete.

"Look at his last game when he played against Manchester United, he was fantastic for us. Going forward he was a threat and defensively he was so strong.

"Hopefully he can get back to that level. To have him back playing is a big plus for us."

Johnson's attacking prowess is ideally suited to the 3-4-1-2 formation Rodgers has adopted during his spell on the sidelines.

He's likely to replace Raheem Sterling in the right wing-back role for the clash with Alan Pardew's side.

"There is no doubt we have missed Glen's experience, his quality, his strength and his power," Rodgers said.

"He has trained really well over the past few weeks. Of course he won't be 100% fit going into his first game back but he's certainly close to that."

With Lucas Leiva, Joe Allen and Aly Cissokho also back available, second-placed Liverpool headed for the North East in good shape as they look to extend their flying start to the season.

St James' Park was the setting for the most emphatic triumph of Rodgers' reign back in April when Liverpool dished out a 6-0 thrashing. It was Newcastle's heaviest home defeat since 1925 and the Reds boss knows Pardew's side will be desperate to make amends.

The mid-table Magpies have endured mixed fortunes so far this term with two of their three league wins coming on their travels. At home they beat Fulham but lost to newly promoted Hull and drew with West Ham.

"In the game at St James' last season we were exceptional," Rodgers said. "We made a good start, we were clinical and our goals were brilliant.

"We coped with the bit of pressure we expected just after half-time and got the killer third goal. We had great control of the game and that will be the target once again. They will be determined to get a result in front of a demanding and passionate crowd and I'm expecting a tough game. Newcastle are coming off the back of a really good result at Cardiff. But we're going there with great confidence and belief in the group and we're looking to carry that on over the coming weeks and months."

Liverpool's best start to a Premier League campaign for five years has been achieved without Rodgers' side firing on all cylinders.

The Northern Irishman voiced his frustration at the manner in which standards slipped during the 3-1 win over Crystal Palace prior to the international break. Luis Suarez's late strike at Sunderland remains their only second-half league goal this term.

Rodgers admits there is room for improvement but with the Reds 10 points better off than at the same stage last term he says they are looking to make minor adjustments from a position of strength.

"As a coach you always analyse and look at ways to improve performances over the course of 90 minutes," he said.

"But I haven't seen a team this year who has been outstanding for 90 minutes. I don't think it's necessarily a Liverpool problem.

"I watched Everton's game against Newcastle - in the first half they were excellent, in second half it nearly went to 3-3. It's just something that happens in football.

"The idea is to control games for long periods and I still think we can be better at that but it's impossible to dominate a game for 90 minutes. This is the most competitive league in the world and to get three points home or away isn't easy.

"I go on about performance because I always want us to play well and play good football. That's something I'll continue to do but we're evolving and getting better I'll wait for that to come.

"Parts of our game have been excellent so far and we'll keep analysing where we can be better."

Source: Liverpool Echo 

This story has been reproduced from today's media. It does not necessarily represent the position of Liverpool Football Club.

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