GLEN JOHNSON could yet be fit for Liverpool’s showdown with Arsenal on Saturday despite pulling out of the England squad.
The full-back reported a minor injury at training yesterday morning and as a precaution was allowed to leave the national set-up and return to Melwood where he will be assessed by the club’s medical staff.
Given Johnson’s recent history of hamstring troubles, it appears a safety first approach has been taken with the 27-year-old.
Although Johnson has been forced to miss tonight’s friendly with Holland at Wembley, Reds manager Kenny Dalglish will be relieved the defender was spared another run-out so soon after Sunday’s energy sapping Carling Cup final win over Cardiff City.
And though the fifth member of the England squad to withdraw from the match, Liverpool have not given up hope Johnson will make the starting line-up on Saturday and are sure to give him every chance to prove his fitness.
Interim manager Stuart Pearce, who will name his starting line-up and captain this morning, has opted to draft in Manchester City’s Joleon Lescott as Johnson’s replacement.
Stewart Downing, who played the full 120 minutes at Wembley on Sunday is also in the national squad for this evening’s game but Liverpool will hope Pearce does not overburden any of the Reds players given their exertions just three days ago.
And though Holland international Dirk Kuyt only featured in extra-time at the national stadium, Liverpool will keep their fingers crossed he comes through unscathed.
Dalglish will also keep an eye on a series of international fixtures tonight with several senior players involved around the world.
Luis Suarez and Sebastien Coates could feature for Uruguay against Romania whilst Maxi Rodriguez is in the Argentina squad for their match in Switzerland.
Pepe Reina has been called up by Spain for their friendly with Venezuala, Charlie Adam is likely to play some part for Scotland against Slovenia and Martin Skrtel travels to Turkey for Slovakia’s friendly there.
Liverpool’s Premier League game at QPR will now take place on Wednesday, March 21 kicking off at 8pm. And the Reds’ game with Chelsea on May 5 has been moved to May 6, with the game now kicking off at 2pm.