Following reports Lucas Leiva would miss at least the two months originally reported, Liverpool's top four hopes took another blow with news Glen Johnson would be out indefinitely after playing much of the season injured. That the fullback has been playing hurt at least goes some way towards explaining and excusing his poor form; that he's now out of the picture entirely only adds to the club's depth and injury woes.
"We've got a few that have been ill this week, and one or two that have been struggling with injury," said Brendan Rodgers. "Our latest one is Glen Johnson. Glen has played a lot of the season having been injured and really put himself out for the team, but unfortunately he's struggled a lot with a number of injuries. The timeline he'll be out will be indefinitely, really. We'll just need to assess him and see how quickly he comes through."
Though Johnson is out of contention at the very least for the weekend's FA Cup tie and the derby on Tuesday—and possibly for much longer than that—Jon Flanagan is back in training and could be ready to play soon. Bournemouth might come too quickly for the young fullback, leaving Martin Kelly and Aly Cissokho the most likely starters for Saturday's match, but Flanagan could be an option for Rodgers against Everton, and few would be shocked to see him start.
Despite Flanagan's strong performances in December and Kelly's promise, though, that's hardly an ideal trio for the manager to choose from over the coming weeks with Johnson joining Jose Enrique on the sidelines and leaving the club without either of their first choice fullbacks. Given the injuries and general lack of quality fullback depth, fans might think the club needs to strengthen the position before January ends, but Rodgers doesn't see it that way.
"We don’t need to bring any more defenders in," he insisted to the puzzlement of Liverpool fans around the globe, the vast majority of whom doubt the club's ability to maintain a top four challenge with a young Flanagan, injury-prone Kelly, and off form Cissokho at the back. "We just need to get some of our players back fit. We’re missing key players, but we’ve got to manage with what we’ve got. If we can bring anyone in, great, if not, we have what we have."
The manager can play down the need for reinforcements, but with Jonhson out indefinitely and Lucas expected to miss two to three months, few will be satisfied if it's still a case of "we have what we have" come February 1st. Moreover, if it's an approach that fails to yield a top four finish after Liverpool stood top at Christmas, confidence in Rodgers, the transfer committee, and Fenway Sports Group will take a significant hit.