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Nov, 2, 2012

Rodgers: Johnson is one of world's best

Glen Johnson rivals Daniel Alves as the best right-back in world football according to Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers - even though he has largely used the England defender as a left-back.

• Blog: League form must improve

Rodgers has asked Johnson to switch flanks this season because Jose Enrique has been struggling for form and fitness. And the former Portsmouth defender, who was at Chelsea when Rodgers coached their youth and reserve sides, has justified the switch with a series of impressive displays.

Rodgers has tried winger Stewart Downing and teenager Jack Robinson at left-back in cup competitions this season, but it is to Johnson he turns in the Premier League. And he is hoping that the defender, who missed Wednesday's 3-1 Capital One Cup defeat at home to Swansea with a hamstring strain, will be fit to face Newcastle in the league at Anfield on Sunday.

"Glen's arguably been the player of the season in the Premier League - never mind at Liverpool." Rodgers said, "He's been absolutely outstanding when you consider he's played a lot of the season at left-back.

"He is a world-class full-back. When you miss a player of that quality, that does weaken you as a team. I look at him and Daniel Alves as the two best right-backs in world football.

"He's been absolutely fantastic. I don't know how he's been before this season. I knew him as a really young player when he came in at Chelsea and he was unfortunate he just never really got an opportunity there.

"Then he had to go out to Portsmouth to get his career back on track. He showed there he was a good player. He got himself back to a massive club in Liverpool and has really shown that he's a top player.

"I've been very impressed with Glen. His attitude to training; to the game. And he's had to fill in at left-back because of Jose Enrique's injuries this year. For me, he's one of the top full-backs in the world. I still think he can improve even more."

Goalkeeper Pepe Reina, like Johnson, missed the midweek cup defeat with a hamstring problem, and Rodgers will check on the fitness of both players ahead of the Newcastle game.

Reina has missed Liverpool's last four matches, and if he does not recover, Brad Jones will continue in goal.

Rodgers added: "Pepe and Glen are still receiving treatment. Glen's been out on the training pitch, so we'll see how he goes over the next couple of days and Pepe likewise. We can't rule them out at this stage but I can't say that they're fully fit as of yet. Apart from that, the rest of the group has been good."

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