Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Rodgers relishing Reds' return

Brendan Rodgers will soon have further reinforcements in his Liverpool squad

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers hopes to come out the other side of the international break with his team's injury problems almost cleared up.

England right-back Glen Johnson will miss the World Cup qualifying double-header against Montenegro and Poland as he has been sidelined by an ankle injury sustained a month ago against Manchester United.

However, when the squad reassembles next Thursday Rodgers hopes to have him and others available for selection.

Aly Cissokho has been out with an ankle knock since the end of August, while Joe Allen has a hamstring problem, Philippe Coutinho a shoulder blow that has required surgery and Sebastian Coates a knee injury.

"Glen's out on the field and hopefully after the international break he'll be ready to come back into the squad," said the Reds boss.

"Aly Cissokho trained over the course of the last week or so, so I think after the international break he'll be fine and fit. Joe Allen likewise - he should be ready for the Newcastle game. Glen Johnson and Coutinho will not be long after.

"Obviously Sebastian Coates will be that bit longer and has a bit more to do yet but apart from that we're getting back to our numbers now."

Rodgers' immediate concern is not injury but suspension with Lucas Leiva suspended having already accumulated five bookings, which means he sits out Saturday's visit of Crystal Palace.

With the Brazil international Rodgers' only genuine defensive midfielder, he will have to do some tinkering with Jordan Henderson the most likely option to fill the position.

The Reds boss admits someone will have to adapt their game to fill the role occupied by Lucas, who is almost back to his best after a surgery on a cruciate knee ligament problem in 2011.

"There's no doubt Lucas has started the season well. He's a very honest, committed player who understands what it is we're trying to do," Rodgers said.

"It will give an opportunity for someone else to come in. Hopefully that will prove seamless and they can come in and continue with a good performance.

"Whoever plays in there has to understand the dynamic of what is required and they may have to curtail their game a little bit.

"If you move freely and empty that space it leaves it too open.

"Our movement and fluidity in the other half of the field is getting better but you have to make sure you have that tactical discipline and whoever plays in there will have to have a similar function."