• Premier League

Johnson return boosts Liverpool, Reina close to return

ESPN staff
November 9, 2012
Brendan Rodgers wary of Chelsea

Liverpool defender Glen Johnson is set to return to first-team action against his former club Chelsea on Sunday, while Pepe Reina could also make his comeback.

Hamstring injuries have forced full-back Johnson and goalkeeper Reina out of the past four and six games respectively.

But manager Brendan Rodgers is confident that Johnson, who was Chelsea's first signing in the Roman Abramovich era, will be able to take his place in the defence.

Reina is more doubtful but Rodgers believes he will definitely be fit to face Wigan next Saturday if he does not line up against the Champions League winners.

"Glen looks very strong so he will be fit," Rodgers said. "We will assess Pepe over the next 24 hours and if he doesn't make the weekend, he will be fit for next. Pepe is recuperating very well and he is working very hard."

Australia international Brad Jones has been deputising for Reina but Rodgers confirmed the Spaniard will be straight back into the team when he is able to return, saying: "Brad has done very well but Pepe is our No. 1 keeper."

The trip to Stamford Bridge pits Liverpool against their former striker Fernando Torres, who scored 33 goals in his debut campaign at Anfield and left for Chelsea in a British record £50 million deal in January 2011.

The same day Liverpool bought Luis Suarez from Ajax for £22.8 million and Rodgers, who said he had never heard rumours that Torres would welcome a return to Anfield, praised his Uruguayan top scorer.

He said: "Certainly from the outside, Fernando Torres did a terrific job here. In those first 18 months he was fantastic. He decided to move on and Liverpool got a world-class striker who has been absolutely breathtaking.

"Particularly this season some of his play has been fantastic. He is a world-class striker and obviously Fernando Torres left to go to Chelsea and good luck to him. I'm blessed to work at a great club with great players and Luis is one of them. Liverpool have done terrifically from that deal."

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