Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Johnson very close to return but won't be rushed insists Rafa

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.

"He will need time and we will introduce him little by little."

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.

"If you play in the Champions League or Europa League - in a knockout competition - you can see a clean sheet is very important and not to concede away is the main thing because then you can manage at home."

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