Tag Archives: downing

PREMIER LEAGUE LIVE: Arsenal vs Norwich, Aston Villa vs Fulham, Everton vs QPR, Reading vs Liverpool, Southampton vs West Ham

PREMIER LEAGUE LIVE: Follow all the action as it happens

By
Adam Shergold

PUBLISHED:

01:00 GMT, 13 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

13:16 GMT, 13 April 2013

It may be FA Cup semi-final weekend, but there's still plenty of Premier League action to enjoy with five 3pm kick-offs on Saturday afternoon: Arsenal vs Norwich City, Aston Villa vs Fulham, Everton vs Queens Park Rangers, Reading vs Liverpool and Southampton vs West Ham United.

Join Adam Shergold for all the goals as they go in from 2pm.

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2.02pm LIVERPOOL team news versus Reading – Brendan Rodgers has made one change from last weekend's goalless draw with West Ham United, with Daniel Sturridge coming in for Stewart Downing.

Liverpool: Reina, Enrique, Johnson, Carragher, Agger, Lucas, Henderson, Gerrard, Sturridge, Suarez, Coutinho
Substitutes: Jones, Assaidi, Downing, Coates, Suso, Shelvey, Skrtel

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READING team news vs Liverpool
Reading: McCarthy, Gunter, Morrison, Mariappa, Kelly, Karacan, Guthrie, McAnuff, Hunt, McCleary, Pogrebnyak
Substitutes: Taylor, Harte, Pearce, Carrico, Le Fondre, Blackman

2pm Hello and welcome to Sportsmail's coverage of this afternoon's five Barclays Premier League matches.

The FA Cup semi-finals may take centre stage this weekend, but there's still plenty at stake in the top flight, particularly in the relegation battle.

Stay with us for all the team news, coming up shortly.

Premier League Saturday afternoon action

Stewart Downing: Liverpool are starting to click into gear

I love it when a plan comes together! Downing hails Rodgers after Liverpool thrash Wigan

By
Carl Markham, Press Association

PUBLISHED:

13:49 GMT, 3 March 2013

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UPDATED:

13:49 GMT, 3 March 2013

Liverpool winger Stewart Downing believes the side are starting to click into gear and while it may be just a little too late to snatch a Champions League place he is confident they can still finish the season on a high.

The 4-0 demolition of Wigan at the DW Stadium came courtesy of a Luis Suarez hat-trick after Downing's second-minute header but there were other elements of the performance which impressed.

Since taking over in the summer manager Brendan Rodgers has spent his time trying to ingrain a new way of playing into the side, although he admits he will still require a number of transfer windows to bring the best out of his methods.

On the up: Stewart Downing celebrates after scoring against Wigan

On the up: Stewart Downing celebrates after scoring against Wigan

But the ease with which 8.5million January signing Philippe Coutinho seamlessly fitted in on only his third appearance – providing assists for the first two goals – suggests Rodgers' plan is working.

And despite their frequent difficulties in finishing off their dominance in possession results are starting to suggest when things go right they do so in impressive fashion.

The sequence of Liverpool's last six league victories since December 22 is 4-0, 3-0, 3-0, 5-0, 5-0, 4-0.

'I think it's coming together. We've had some good results of late. We're finishing teams off and defending ever so well,' said Downing.

'Pepe Reina made some great saves (against Wigan) and if we do our bit at the other end of the field, we've got a chance.

'It's all coming together. We've got 10 games to go and we've got to keep winning games.'

Liverpool's total of 53 goals from 28 matches is their second best at this stage of a Premier League season – bettered only by the 56 scored in 1995-96 – but Rodgers is not getting carried away.

He can see the progress being made but knows Champions League qualification this season remains some way off for his seventh-placed side at this point.

Treble: Luis Suarez scored a hat-trick as Wigan were put to the sword

Treble: Luis Suarez scored a hat-trick as Wigan were put to the sword

'We are not thinking about that. All we are looking at this moment in time is the next game – that is what we spoke about in the last few days,” said the Reds boss.

'We have played well a lot of this season, what has got us behind has been individual errors.

'Yesterday I could see the graft the players are doing on the training field being taken onto the pitch.

'There was a real focus and concentration in our performance.

'They are being very accustomed to how we are asking them to press as a team high up the pitch and when to drop in and build a block and control the game. That was wonderful for us.

'We have to give great credit to the players because it is very easy, especially after getting knocked out of the Europa League, to feel sorry for ourselves.

'We will focus on finishing as high as we can and look to finish the season strongly.'

Suarez stole the show again with a hat-trick which lifted him to 21 league goals for the season and past Manchester United's Robin van Persie as the country's leading scorer.

'It was another great performance,' added Downing.

Cruise control: Liverpool are finding their feet under Brendan Rodgers

Cruise control: Liverpool are finding their feet under Brendan Rodgers

'There were all types of different goals for his hat-trick.

'At the minute he's on fire and if you have a striker like that in your team, you always have a chance of winning games.

'We played some good football. Obviously getting the early goal helped.

'It settled us down and on a tricky pitch, I thought we dominated for large periods of the game.'

Of his rare header he said: 'It was nice to get a goal, no matter how they come.

'The manager said to me to try to get in a position to score goals and if you get in the box, you have a chance.

'It was a great ball from Philippe and I was able to make a good contact on it to get it past the keeper.'

Downing's goal set the tone for what was probably Liverpool's most comfortable victory of the season.

Coutinho's perfectly-weighted pass put Suarez through for a clever finish in the 18th minute and the Uruguayan then scored a deflected free-kick with 34 minutes gone and Wigan in disarray.

Four minutes into the second half right-back Glen Johnson charged 40 yards downfield before releasing Suarez to complete his treble with an angled shot through the legs of goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi.

Stewart Downing says Liverpool revival is down to Brendan Rodgers

Downing: Rodgers fallout and being told I could leave inspired my Liverpool revival

By
Press Association Reporter

PUBLISHED:

16:13 GMT, 24 January 2013

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UPDATED:

17:58 GMT, 24 January 2013

Liverpool winger Stewart Downing admits a difference of opinion with manager Brendan Rodgers over where his future lay sparked his revival in fortunes.

The England midfielder was told a couple of months ago he could leave in the transfer window if the right offer came in as he was not a regular under the Northern Irishman.

Downing, however, saw it differently and, helped by injuries and unavailability of other players, got a chance to earn a run in the team and his performances in the last six weeks have shown a marked improvement.

Settled: Downing is happy again at Liverpool

Settled: Downing is happy again at Liverpool

'It was very open,' the 28-year-old said of his discussion with Rodgers. 'I wasn't in the team or playing and he said to me maybe I could look elsewhere because I need to play at my age.

'I didn't totally agree but I understood where he was coming from.

'Obviously he needs players who are going to play and not be sat about, but I thought in the back of my mind if I get a chance I can prove myself
to him.

'Luckily enough I did in the next week or so after that.

Open: Rodgers had told Downing he could leave

Open: Rodgers had told Downing he could leave

'Our conversations have been very open. If I'm doing well he will say so and if not, I'll be pulled and told what I need to do.

'It's the same for all the players. It's good for me and that's how I like it, to be told if it's right or wrong.

'At the moment it's all going well and he's pleased with me, so I have to keep it going.

'I said to him I'd love to stay and if I keep playing well, then hopefully it can continue into the seasons after.

Hotshot: The form of Raheem Sterling was one reason Downing was not a regular

Hotshot: The form of Raheem Sterling was one reason Downing was not a regular

'I've still got a few more years on my contract so I'd like to see it out if that can happen, and the only thing I can do is play well and he'll keep me in the team.'

Downing believes his recent performances have been the most consistent of his 18 months at Anfield.

He also feels it helps the team have put in some positive displays which have boosted confidence all round.

'The first season was patchy, I was in and out, but this year since I came back into the side it's been consistently quite good,' he told liverpoolfc.com.

Competition: Suso was another to keep Downing sidelined

Competition: Suso was another to keep Downing sidelined

'It's probably because the team is playing quite well that it has all come together.

'A good run of games has been good for me. I think I've proven in my career that if I play regularly I tend to give good and consistent performances.

'It was disappointing because I was in and out, in and out and it was becoming a bit frustrating at times, but the best thing is playing in a winning team and playing with good players helps.

'There's consistency in the whole team, which is helping my game as well.

Provider: Downing has contributed to Sturridge's scoring start

Provider: Downing has contributed to Sturridge's scoring start

'My aim every game is to make the manager not leave me out. The only way to do that is to perform well.

'I've basically had nothing to lose in games and I think that's helped me over the last few weeks and long may it continue.'

Liverpool's pursuit of Inter Milan's Philippe Coutinho rests on whether the Italian side are prepared to accept what amounts to a final offer for the midfielder.

Targeted: Coutinho could yet join Liverpool

Targeted: Coutinho could yet join Liverpool

The Merseyside club have made a bid approaching 8million for the Brazil man, who is keen on a move to Anfield despite previous comments suggesting he was happy in Italy.

However, Rodgers has no inclination to pay above his valuation for the 20-year-old and will not be persuaded otherwise, despite reports Southampton are interested.

Liverpool v Fulham live

PREMIER LEAGUE LIVE: Liverpool v Fulham – as it happens from Anfield

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UPDATED:

17:52 GMT, 22 December 2012

Follow Sportsmail's coverage of the Barclays Premier League as Liverpool host Fulham at Anfield to conclude Saturday's action. Just two points separate the mid-table sides as Martin Jol's outfit will aim for a repeat of their 1-0 win at the Reds in May. Send me your thoughts on the action at [email protected] or contact me on Twitter @Ripinho.

Liverpool 1-0 Fulham (5.30pm)

Click here for the live goals as they go in

Liverpool: Reina, Johnson, Skrtel,
Agger, Jose Enrique, Gerrard, Lucas, Shelvey, Suso, Suarez,
Downing.
Subs: Jones, Sahin, Henderson, Carragher, Allen, Sterling,
Wisdom.

Goal: Skrtel 8.

Fulham: Schwarzer, Riether,
Hangeland, Hughes, Riise, Kacaniklic, Karagounis, Baird, Richardson,
Dejagah, Berbatov.
Subs: Stockdale, Senderos, Kasami, Briggs, Rodallega,
Frei, Tavares.

Referee: Mark Clattenburg (Tyne & Wear)

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21min: Finally some sting from the visitors. Moments after Skrtel has another header saved at the back post, Fulham counter.

Ashkan Dejagah breaks into the box but after feeding Alex Kacaniklic, the midfielder sees his eventual shot blocked.

19min: So sluggish are Fulham that Martin Jol is on the edge of his technical area demanding his side close the ball down more. Liverpool remain as comfortable as you can be.

16min: Fulham can barely string two passes together and their problems could get worse as Sascha Riether has been limping around the pitch in the last few minutes.

13min: Excellent strike from Stewart Downing, whose 20-yard rocket is tipped behind at the near post by Mark Schwarzer.

So fine was the touch that the officials missed it and a goal kick is given.

11min: And there has been no response from Fulham who have given the Liverpool defence very little to worry about. This could be a long afternoon for the Cottagers.

8min: GOAL! LIVERPOOL 1-0 Fulham

Fulham survived the first corner but their atrocious marking is soon shown up again.

A Steven Gerrard corner finds Martin Skrtel free inside the box, who lashes home a strike to make up for his own goal in this fixture last May.

6min: Liverpool win a corner following a jinking run from Jose Enrique, but Jonjo Shelvey's cross is headed over by Daniel Agger.

3min: A quiet start with neither side looking particularly threatening on the ball so far. A decent sized crowd at Anfield also seems very quiet.

Kick-off: Away we go.

17.27: The teams are out at Anfield.

17.24: But Liverpool can move into the top half of the table and into eighth with a win today.

Fulham have 11th place to aim for with three points that would take them above the Reds.

17.21: As touched upon, both sides spectacularly crashed last weekend. Liverpool suffered a shock 3-1 home defeat against Aston Villa, while Fulham suffered the ignominy of being the first team to lose against QPR after a 2-0 defeat at Loftus Road.

Back in the side: Suso is recalled for Liverpool

Back in the side: Suso is recalled for Liverpool

17.18: Liverpool boss, Brendan Rodgers spoke to ESPN before the game:

'We have been making steady progress on and off the field. Last weekend was a big disappointment but we have worked well and will look to take three points in a difficult game.

'Joe Allen has played double the amount at this stage than last season but it's important I use him wisely, like wise with young Raheem. I have terrific players chomping at the bit and here is the opportunity for them to do well.'

17.13: Martin Jol certainly believes Fulham can win today but the Cottagers boss conceded his side may be a little short in midfield, speaking before kick-off.

The Dutchman pointed out that Dimitar Berbatov will be the key player for the west London side going forward.

17.10: Full line-ups from Anfield:

Liverpool v Fulham
Liverpool: Reina, Johnson, Skrtel, Agger, Jose Enrique, Gerrard, Lucas, Shelvey, Suso, Suarez, Downing. Subs: Jones, Sahin, Henderson, Carragher, Allen, Sterling, Wisdom.

Fulham: Schwarzer, Riether, Hangeland, Hughes, Riise, Kacaniklic, Karagounis, Baird, Richardson, Dejagah, Berbatov. Subs: Stockdale, Senderos, Kasami, Briggs, Rodallega, Frei, Tavares.

Referee: Mark Clattenburg (Tyne & Wear)

17.05: Teenage winger Raheem Sterling is on the bench the day after signing a new long-term contract as Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers makes two changes for the visit of Fulham.

Sterling and Joe Allen are both rested, as Rodgers had suggested this week, with Jose Enrique fit again after a hamstring injury and Suso making his first league appearance since being hauled off after 36 minutes against Wigan on November 17.

Fulham make three changes following last weekend's defeat at QPR with former Liverpool reserve Alex Kacaniklic recalled along with Giorgos Karagounis and Ashkan Dejagah.

17.00: I know it looks like a run-of-the-mill mid-table clash to conclude the last Saturday before Christmas but I can assure you it is much more than that.

In Liverpool v Fulham we have two sides that suffered crushing defeats for different reasons last weekend and both will be desperate for a morale boosting win going into the hectic Christmas schedule.

Conclusion: Liverpool host Fulham at Anfield to bring an end to Saturday's action

Conclusion: Liverpool host Fulham at Anfield to bring an end to Saturday's action

Brendan Rodgers has given Stewart Downing permission to leave Anfield

Rodgers gives Downing permission to end his Anfield nightmare

|

UPDATED:

15:08 GMT, 15 December 2012

Stewart Downing is ready to end his Liverpool nightmare after claiming that Brendan Rodgers has told him he can leave.

The England international will consider his options in the January window after struggling to make an impact this season.

Exit: Stewart Downing (pictured) has claimed that Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers has given him permission to leave in January

Exit: Stewart Downing (pictured) has claimed that Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers has given him permission to leave in January

The rise of 18-year-old Raheem Sterling limited his options at the start of the season and although he has been more involved in recent weeks by the Liverpool manager, Rodgers has favoured playing full-back Jose Enrique on the wing and Downing at left back.

'The manager has said I can leave if I want to,' Downing said in an interview in the Liverpool matchday programme ahead of today's game with his former club, Aston Villa.

'But then all of a sudden I've come back into the team, it's a strange situation.

'I've played for a long time and there are spells when you can be in and out of the side.'

Downing has suffered a poor run of form since his 20million move to Liverpool in summer 2011, and has still failed to register a single Premier League goal for the club.

He added: 'At the minute I'm trying to play as many games as possible.

'If that doesn't happen I'm at an age where I can't be sat around. I need to play and the manager understands that.

'That's how the situation is and we'll have to see what happens in January or the summer.'

Permission: Reds boss Brendan Rodgers (pictured) has been playing downing at left back in recent weeks

Permission: Reds boss Brendan Rodgers (pictured) has been playing Downing at left back in recent weeks

Damien Comolli defends Kenny Dalglish"s transfer record at Liverpool

Comolli defends Dalglish's 110m Liverpool spending spree… as it emerges they missed out on Ba, Giroud and Kagawa

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UPDATED:

09:57 GMT, 14 December 2012

Former Liverpool director of football Damien Comolli has defended Kenny Dalglish’s transfer record at the club despite the fact that many of his signings are no longer part of Brendan Rodgers' plans.

In his time at the club Comolli oversaw an estimated 110million spending spree as Liverpool aggressively pursued Champions League football.

And since the Frenchman departed Anfield, Dalglish has also left, while his high profile signigs Carroll has been loaned to West Ham, Charlie Adam and Craig Bellamy have departed, Stewart Downing will leave if a buyer can be found in January, and Jose Enrique, Jordan Henderson and Sebastian Coates have had doubts raised against them.

Mixed reviews: Liverpool signed Andy Carroll and Luis Suarez in the same transfer window

Mixed reviews: Liverpool signed Andy Carroll and Luis Suarez in the same transfer window

DALGLISH'S SIGNINGS

ANDY CARROLL (35million)
LUIS SUAREZ (22.8million)
JORDAN HENDERSON (16million)
CHARLIE ADAM (9million)
STEWART DOWNING (20million)
JOSE ENRIQUE (5million)
SEBASTIAN COATES (7million*)
CRAIG BELLAMY (free)

*Estimated fee

That leaves Luis Suarez – an 18m signing from Ajax – as the only player who still plays a key role at the club.

Goals have been one of the main problems for Liverpool over the last few seasons and while he does not confirm names, the likes of Demba Ba, Olivier Giroud and Shinji Kagawa all were linked with moves to Anfield but all eventually moved elsewhere.

But Comolli defends his record at the club, speaking to the Daily Express, he said: ‘We did 26 deals and to think we wouldn’t make any mistakes in such a huge number of deals in and out would be totally unrealistic.

Defending his role: Damien Comolli says the signings he made should be judged over the long term

Defending his role: Damien Comolli says the signings he made should be judged over the long term

‘I do not think we made any mistakes on the players going out and whether we made mistakes on the players who came in, time will tell. I am very uncomfortable for players to be judged after six, eight or even 12 months. Sometimes it takes two or three years.

‘In two or three years you can say, ‘Damien and Kenny, you were wrong’. Or you can say, ‘They just needed time’.’

The 35m move for Carroll is one of the moves that has attracted the most criticism, but again, Comolli is quick to defend the actions of the club.

Demba Ba

Demba Ba

Olivier Giroud

Olivier Giroud

Shinji Kagawa

Shinji Kagawa

He added: ‘If you want to talk about the Carroll deal, the situation was quite clear.

‘The way we looked at it, we were selling two players – Fernando Torres and Ryan Babel – and we were bringing two in – Suarez and Carroll – and we were making a profit and the wage bill was coming down considerably as well. It was a four-player deal.

Parting ways: Kenny Dalglish won the League Cup but owners Tom Werner and John W Henry decided to go a for Brendan Rodgers this season

Parting ways: Kenny Dalglish won the League Cup but owners Tom Werner and John W Henry decided to go a for Brendan Rodgers this season

'Chelsea kept bidding higher and higher for Torres. The difference between their first and final bid is double.

'They [FSG] asked me what the risks were and I said if things don’t go well you’ll lose something on Andy, but it is difficult to measure whether you will make money if things go well because Liverpool aren’t a selling club and he could be here for the next 10 years.’

Arsenal set to make 10m swoop for Liverpool flop Stewart Downing

Arsenal set to make 10m swoop for Liverpool flop Downing in January

|

UPDATED:

22:43 GMT, 24 November 2012

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is ready
to make a shock 10million move for Liverpool's out-of-favour winger
Stewart Downing in the January transfer window.

Wenger was outbid by Liverpool when
he wanted to sign Downing in 2011 as a replacement for Samir Nasri and
now believes he can rescue his career after the England international's
torrid time at Anfield.

On the radar: Liverpool's Stewart Downing (right)

On the radar: Liverpool's Stewart Downing (right)

Current Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers does not want Downing, who has lost form and confidence since his 20m switch to Merseyside.

But Wenger is convinced he has the technical ability to fit in at Arsenal and would provide balance to his team on the left flank.

Downing can also play left-back, which has been Arsenal's problem position this season.

Capped 34 times, Downing was hailed as a new Kop hero when signed by Kenny Dalglish following an electric spell with Aston Villa.

But he failed to contribute a Premier League goal or assist in his first season and has been publicly criticised by Rodgers for a lack of work-rate in the current campaign.

Liverpool may try to use Arsenal's interest as currency to land Theo Walcott, who only has six months left on his contract at the Emirates.

Thomas Ince subject of 5million Liverpool bid

EXCLUSIVE: Liverpool make 5m bid for Ince… a year after they released him for free!

|

UPDATED:

18:02 GMT, 16 November 2012

Highly-rated: Ince

Highly-rated: Ince

Liverpool have made a 5million bid for Thomas Ince in a dramatic move to take the England Under 21 midfielder back to Anfield.

Brendan Rodgers is keen to recruit Ince’s attacking flair and eye for goal and hopes to reach an agreement with Blackpool in time to complete a deal at the start of the January transfer window.

Blackpool have yet to come back with an answer, according to Anfield sources, but Liverpool are confident of signing him for a second time, amid growing suggestions that both Ince and Matt Phillips may have to be sold before the season is out.

Southampton and Swansea are both hot
on the trail of Phillips and believe he could be prised away from
Bloomfield Road for 6million in the New Year.

Both have also enquired about Ince,
though Liverpool are in pole position after making a concrete offer, in
the wake of his England under-21 appearance against Northern Ireland on
Tuesday night.

Manchester United have been linked
with the 20-year-old, and do have an interest in him, but Rodgers has
made the first move after vowing to reinforce his attacking options.

Ince joined Liverpool as a junior in
2008 and was given a squad number at the start of the 2010-11 season. He
never made a Barclays Premier League appearance for them, though, and
readily accepted Blackpool’s offer of a two-year contract, with an
option for a further 12 months, after beginning to despair of making the
breakthrough at Anfield.

Anfield return Liverpool released Ince at the end of the 2010-11 season

Anfield return Liverpool released Ince at the end of the 2010-11 season

His progress there has been such that
Rodgers sees him as a ready-made replacement for Stewart Downing, whose
Liverpool days look numbered after a signal he will be allowed to
leave.

Reflecting on the transformation in
his fortunes since moving to Bloomfield Road, Ince said: ‘I wouldn’t be
where I am today if it wasn’t for Blackpool. I’ve been given the
opportunity to play week in, week out at a very high level in the
Championship.

‘It is flattering to have all that
(transfer) interest. It shows you are playing good football and are in
good form, but at the moment my focus is on playing for Blackpool.’

Liverpool"s Raheem Sterling wants 50k deal: EXCLUSIVE

EXCLUSIVE: Teen ace Sterling wants 50k-a-week deal to stay at Liverpool

|

UPDATED:

02:29 GMT, 10 November 2012

Raheem Sterling is poised to reject Liverpool’s initial offer of a new contract after talks opened last week.

Sterling, who has burst into the first team at Anfield this season, has 18 months to run on a deal worth 2,000 a week plus appearance bonuses and has clubs keen on luring him away from Merseyside.

High demands: Raheem Sterling wants parity with the Liverpool's first-team

High demands: Raheem Sterling wants parity with the Liverpool's first-team

He is 18 next month and although money was not discussed at the meeting, Liverpool have been preparing terms in the region of 20,000 a week.

Sterling’s camp, however, have made it clear they would reject such an offer and consider their options. They believe he deserves closer to 50,000 a week, putting him in the same bracket as other established first-teamers. Stewart Downing, barely picked this season, earns 60,000 a week.

Sterling has made such an impact that he got his first England call-up for Wednesday’s friendly in Sweden.

Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers was full of praise for his winger.

'He has been fantastic this season since he has broken in,’ he said. ‘It’s a great effort by him. He deserves his call-up.’

Flying start: The 17-year-old has exploded onto the scene this season, though his youthful inexperience has been noticeable at times

Flying start: The 17-year-old has exploded onto the scene this season, though his youthful inexperience has been noticeable at times

Flying start: The 17-year-old has exploded onto the scene this season, though his youthful inexperience has been noticeable at times

Meanwhile, Liverpool’s boss has said he does not mind that he missed out on working with Fernando Torres as he has Luis Suarez to call upon instead. Torres has not scored against Liverpool since leaving the club for 50million in January 2011 and has struggled at Chelsea.

Suarez, by contrast, goes into tomorrow’s contest as arguably the most dangerous forward in England.

‘Torres decided to move on and Liverpool got in a world-class striker who has been absolutely breathtaking, particularly this season,’ Rodgers said. ‘Luis is world class and we are delighted with him. Liverpool did terrifically out of the deal and we have got a top player here.’

Glen Johnson back in full training for Liverpool

Johnson boost for Liverpool as defender returns to training after hamstring problem

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UPDATED:

13:23 GMT, 7 November 2012

LIVERPOOL SQUAD TO PLAY ANZHI

Jones, Wisdom, Carragher, Coates, Robinson, Shelvey, Henderson, Cole, Downing, Yesil, Assaidi, Gulacsi, Ward, Flanagan, Sama, Wilson, Coady, Suso, Morgan.

Glen Johnson has provided Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers with a lift ahead of Sunday's crucial trip to Chelsea by returning to full training.

The England right-back has missed Liverpool's last three games after suffering a hamstring problem in the 1-0 Europa League victory over Anzhi Makhachkala on October 25.

Johnson will not travel to Moscow for Thursday's return fixture against the Russian league leaders but he gave the impression during a training session at Melwood on Wednesday morning he will be fine for the trip to Stamford Bridge this weekend.

On the mend: Glen Johnson (right) was back in action during Liverpool's training session on Wednesday

On the mend: Glen Johnson (right) was back in action during Liverpool's training session on Wednesday

Along with Steven Gerrard, Luis Suarez, Daniel Agger and Martin Skrtel, Johnson was concentrating on fitness and conditioning work with fitness coach Ryland Morgans, while Rodgers oversaw a group that included Jamie Carragher, Stewart Downing and Joe Cole.

Though he has only been on the sidelines a short time, there is little doubt Liverpool have missed Johnson and Rodgers showed how highly he rates the 28-year-old when he paid him a glowing tribute before Sunday's 1-1 draw against Newcastle United.

'Glen has arguably been the player of the season in the Premier League, never mind at Liverpool,' Rodgers said.

'He's been absolutely outstanding when you consider he's played a lot of the season at left-back.

'He is a world-class full-back. When you miss a player of that quality, it does weaken you as a team. I look at him and (Barcelona's) Daniel Alves as the two best right-backs in world football. He has been absolutely fantastic. I have been very impressed with him.'

Liverpool will take a young squad to Russia as they aim to consolidate their place at the top of Group A, which includes Academy graduates Conor Coady and Adam Morgan, a young striker who scored the first goal of Rodgers' reign in a friendly against FC Toronto.

Full pelt: Reds skipper Steven Gerrard was put through his paces at Melwood

Full pelt: Reds skipper Steven Gerrard was put through his paces at Melwood

Getting it right: Luis Suarez was concentrating on fitness and conditioning work

Getting it right: Luis Suarez was concentrating on fitness and conditioning work

The travelling party, which will also include Jordan Henderson and Jonjo Shelvey, will be similar in its identity to the one that went to Switzerland in September and beat Young Boys Berne 5-3 but the task against Anzhi will be more complex.

Gerrard, Johnson, Skrtel, Agger and Suarez all played at Anfield against Guus Hiddink's team two weeks ago but Rodgers, whose side have taken 11 points from their first 10 games, simply cannot afford to risk them ahead of the trip to Chelsea.

Raring to go: Johnson has missed Liverpool's last three games

Raring to go: Johnson has missed Liverpool's last three games