Friday, October 04, 2013

Liverpool Trio Set For Return

Glen Johnson, Aly Cissokho and Joe Allen are all on course to make their Liverpool comebacks after the international break.

Right-back Johnson is back in training as he steps up his recovery from a sprained ankle suffered during the 1-0 Premier League victory over Manchester United on September 1.

Left-back Cissokho is on the way back from an ankle problem sustained during the 4-2 Capital One Cup victory over Notts County on August 27.

And midfielder Allen is also close to recovery after picking up a hamstring injury during the same match.

None of the trio will be available for Saturday’s Premier League home game against Crystal Palace -- where Liverpool will also be without suspended midfielder Lucas Leiva and playmaker Philippe Coutinho, who is recovering from shoulder surgery.

But Reds manager Brendan Rodgers is hopeful of getting most of his absentees back after the international break, in time for the trip to Newcastle on October 19.

He said: “Glen’s out on the field, and we hope that after the international break, he’ll be ready to come back into the squad.

“Aly Cissokho has trained over the last week or so, and I think he’ll be ready to come back in after the international break.

“Joe Allen, likewise, should be ready for the Newcastle game, along with Glen Johnson, and Coutinho will not be long after that.”

Lucas is serving a one-match ban after picking up five yellow cards in the first six league matches of the season.

The Brazilian will be difficult to replace as Rodgers does not have an obvious stand-in with the same qualities.

But the Reds boss says that whoever does fill in will need the tactical discipline to ensure the team do not leave themselves too open.

He said: “Whoever plays in there understands the dynamics of what’s required -- that they may have to curtail their game a little bit. If you go in and move freely in that space, it just leaves you too open.

“Our movement and fluidity in the other half of the field is getting better, but you always have to make sure you have that tactical discipline. We talk about that every day. Tactically, we work very hard on our game. That’s something that whoever plays in there will have to do.”

Rodgers has made clear that he prizes tactical flexibility and an ability in his players to operate in different positions.

Midfielder Jordan Henderson has proved one such case, playing as a right wing-back in the absence of the injured Johnson in last Sunday’s 3-1 win at Sunderland, as Rodgers switched from his usual back four to a three-man central defence.

Rodgers said: “I think for Jordan, his versatility is only one thing -- it’s a compliment. I’ve been so impressed -- since I’ve been here, Jordan’s got better and better. His level tactically is very good. He wants to improve all the time. If I didn’t think he could play in the roles properly, I wouldn’t put him there.

“So it’s a great credit to him. At the end of last season, he played as a false winger from the left coming inside, he played wide on the right in his first season here, he’s played as wing-back, wide in the midfield in a four. But in all the systems, you get a work rate and a mentality. Jordan’s got quality. I don’t see it as a hindrance for him. I see it only as a positive.

“I know he really enjoys playing. And wherever he plays, there’s no drop off. You can play him at right-back, as I have, and he’s got forward well. He’s a good young footballer whose understanding of the game is improving all the time, and that allows him to play different positions.”

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