Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez has admitted Glen Johnson is close to a return, but he will not be rushed back.

The Reds defender has been sidelined since suffering medial knee ligament damage in December, missing his side’s poor run of form this year.

The England international was a mainstay in the Liverpool team before his injury suffered against Aston Villa, making 17 appearances in the Premier League this season, scoring twice.

And like returning striker Fernando Torres, Benitez says he will be eased back into contention.

„Johnson is very close,” he said. „I think next week he will be training with the team, or maybe at the end of the week, but it will be the same situation we have with Torres.

The Reds travel to Romania on Thursday to face Unirea Urziceni in the Europa League.

Taking a lead into the away leg after a 1-0 win at Anfield, Liverpool will be favourites to progress, and Benitez hopes there will be more opportunities to attack.

„We have to believe that the away leg will be different because they will have to attack and that will leave more spaces, and maybe we can create more clear chances,” he added.

„If they have to attack, they have to be higher (up the field) and the game will be totally different.

„The main thing now is that we know them. It will not be a surprise the next game and we have to be ready. We have to think about attack.

Wayne Rooney’s headers, bookings for tall players and staying up with the fewest wins… it’s Martin Tyler.

Pictures from Sunday’s Premier League action where Aston Villa knock five past Burnley at Villa Park.

All the best pictures from Liverpool and Fulham’s Europa League games on Thursday night.

Liverpool’s 1-0 win over Wolves in 2004. Can you name the mystery starting XI?

Rafa Benitez has reiterated that he will not be rushing Fernando Torres back into his first-team plans.

Wayne Rooney’s headers, bookings for tall players and staying up with the fewest wins… it’s Martin Tyler.

Liverpool midfielder Lucas recognises that Fernando Torres’ return to fitness is a ‘massive boost’.

Ryan Babel is hoping he can now display his best form for Liverpool following talks with Rafa Benitez.

Liverpool boss Rafa Benitiez maintains the Europa League is a big part of his plans for the rest of the season.

Read the article on Sky Sports

Johnson ‘very close’ to return

Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez has admitted Glen Johnson is close to a return, but he will not be rushed back.

The Reds defender has been sidelined since suffering medial knee ligament damage in December, missing his side’s poor run of form this year.

The England international was a mainstay in the Liverpool team before his injury suffered against Aston Villa, making 17 appearances in the Premier League this season, scoring twice.

And like returning striker Fernando Torres, Benitez says he will be eased back into contention.

„Johnson is very close,” he said. „I think next week he will be training with the team, or maybe at the end of the week, but it will be the same situation we have with Torres.

The Reds travel to Romania on Thursday to face Unirea Urziceni in the Europa League.

Taking a lead into the away leg after a 1-0 win at Anfield, Liverpool will be favourites to progress, and Benitez hopes there will be more opportunities to attack.

„We have to believe that the away leg will be different because they will have to attack and that will leave more spaces, and maybe we can create more clear chances,” he added.

„If they have to attack, they have to be higher (up the field) and the game will be totally different.

„The main thing now is that we know them. It will not be a surprise the next game and we have to be ready. We have to think about attack.

Wayne Rooney’s headers, bookings for tall players and staying up with the fewest wins… it’s Martin Tyler.

Pictures from Sunday’s Premier League action where Aston Villa knock five past Burnley at Villa Park.

All the best pictures from Liverpool and Fulham’s Europa League games on Thursday night.

Liverpool’s 1-0 win over Wolves in 2004. Can you name the mystery starting XI?

Rafa Benitez has reiterated that he will not be rushing Fernando Torres back into his first-team plans.

Wayne Rooney’s headers, bookings for tall players and staying up with the fewest wins… it’s Martin Tyler.

Liverpool midfielder Lucas recognises that Fernando Torres’ return to fitness is a ‘massive boost’.

Ryan Babel is hoping he can now display his best form for Liverpool following talks with Rafa Benitez.

Liverpool boss Rafa Benitiez maintains the Europa League is a big part of his plans for the rest of the season.

Read the article on Sky Sports

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