During the Liverpool Vs Manchester United game, Glen Johnson came up worse for wear after going into a tackle with Patrice Evra. Johnson continued playing but eventually succumbed to his injury and had to come off. Johnson was seen after the game leaving Anfield wearing a medical boot and crutches. The England international will be sorely missed at right back for table topping Liverpool. It is unconfirmed what the injury actually is and how long it will keep Johnson out for but when someone leaves in a walking boot and crutches it is usually safe to say they will be missing for a while. Liverpool will have to replace him, most likely from within.
Johnson, 29, joined Liverpool from Portsmouth in 2009 for £17.5m, a lot of money for a right back, and has been solid and dependable for Liverpool since he got there. Every season since joining the club, Johnson has played at least 23 league games a season, including 36 out of 38 last season. So far Johnson had started all four of Liverpool’s games this season and was without a doubt the starting right back. Last season Johnson was reliable defensively playing 3,224 minutes and making only one defensive error all season. Johnson was good in the tackle, being successful with 81% of his tackles and 51% of his ground 50-50 duels, and made a good amount of interceptions with 57 last season. One weak point if his game was his crossing, only 11% of his crosses were accurate, but he did do decently with creating chances, creating them every 69 minutes. Johnson is an established player at Liverpool and will be missed while he is hurt.
Possible Replacements – Andre Wisdom Vs Martin Kelly
Liverpool will look to replace Johnson for now from within and they will most likely look to either Andre Wisdom or Martin Kelly. Andre Wisdom, the 20 year old right back, made his first team debut last season and made 12 league appearances and seven appearances in other competitions. Wisdom joined the Liverpool youth team in 2008 and has progressed through the ranks with both Liverpool and England. Wisdom may end up being converted to a centre back but for now he still plays at right back and could be a big part of the side this season.
Defensively Wisdom had good stats last season winning 90% of his tackles, 64% of his ground duels, and 59% of his aerial duels but did make two errors making them every 508 minutes as opposed to Johnson’s 3,224 minutes. Martin Kelly is the other option to replace Johnson during his injury. Kelly, 23, joined the clubs youth set up at the age of seven in 1997 and has also come through both the Liverpool and England ranks. Kelly had an ACL injury ruin his season last year and only made four league appearances with only seven in all competitions.
Kelly has never played more than 12 league games in a season at Liverpool therefore the comparison with Andre Wisdom’s 12 appearances last season seems a good one to make. In 2011-2012, Kelly had a tackling percentage of 71% won 56% of his ground duels and had an 11% crossing percentage. They could also go with the young 20 year old Jon Flanagan who has come through the youth ranks but he has only played twice under Brendan Rodgers and never in the Premier League so that looks unlikely. Whichever way they go Liverpool will have a somewhat inexperienced option. That said both are tipped for bright futures with Kelly already having made his England debut and Wisdom a veteran of the England U-21s.
Johnson’s injury could be a blow to Liverpool if he is out for an extended period of time but they do have capable back ups in Wisdom and Kelly. This could be a chance for either Kelly or Wisdom to try to nail down a first team spot and will have a chance to prove their worth to Brendan Rodgers.