Glen Johnson is a doubt for England’s decisive World Cup qualifiers against Montenegro and Poland -- with Brendan Rodgers confirming that the Liverpool defender is likely to be out until mid-October.
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Johnson sat out his country’s 4-0 win over Moldova last Friday and the 0-0 draw in Ukraine on Tuesday with an ankle sprain. The 28-year-old picked up the injury during Liverpool’s 1-0 Premier League win over Manchester United on September 1.
Initial reports suggested that Johnson could be out until Christmas, although Johnson took to Twitter on Thursday to suggest he would be back much sooner.
Liverpool manager Rodgers said on Friday that he expects the defender to miss his side’s next four Premier League games -- putting him in line for a return against Newcastle on October 19. That match will come four days after England complete their World Cup qualifying campaign against Poland at Wembley.
Rodgers said: “It’s a disappointment, because he’s made a good start and he was excellent against Manchester United. Fortunately for us, with the way it works out and the international breaks, he’ll probably only miss, I would think, about four Premier League games. We’ve certainly got a squad here that can cope with that. I trust the players that we’ll put in.
“Glen’s the type of player who you never realise how much you miss until he’s not there. He played a lot of games last season and sometimes you can take him for granted. He’ll go away and work hard now, and he’ll keep himself in the best shape he can. We’re hoping over the course of the next five weeks, that he should be back involved.”
Johnson’s absence leaves Rodgers with the task of reshuffling his defence for Monday’s Premier League trip to Swansea. The manager is expected to restore Kolo Toure in central defence, with the Ivory Coast international fit again after missing the win over United with a groin injury. That means Martin Skrtel, who filled in for Toure, is set to drop to the bench.
Skrtel has had a difficult 2013, having been restricted to just a handful of starts since losing his place to Jamie Carragher in January. With Carragher having retired in May, the Slovakia international now finds himself behind Toure and Daniel Agger in the fight for centre-back places.
Rodgers said: “I thought Martin was outstanding against Manchester United. He was absolutely brilliant in that game. And he’s done very well away with Slovakia as well. At the beginning of the season -- like I did last January when I made the change -- I just felt we needed the experience in there. And Kolo did really well in the games he played when he came in. But I’ve got no doubts about Martin Skrtel. He’s a very good player. And I think the competition will help him.
“I think that’s been a part of the problem here. Players have been comfortable. There are players who have never really had competition. It’s a credit to Martin that he’s been so professional. He’s never moaned once. There was lots of speculation about him going here, there and everywhere. But he’s just on with his work, so that when his chance came, he was ready."