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Liverpool in Lack of Fullback Depth Shocker

With Martin Kelly, Pepe Reina, and Jose Enrique already on the sidelines through injury, discomforting news from Brendan Rodgers today that Glen Johnson has a slight knock as well.

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Mark Thompson

The injury reports this season have been fairly standard, with some of the more familiar faces managing to avoid an extended spell on the training table and only a handful of longer-term absences. Lucas, Fabio Borini, and Martin Kelly have been the most notable, but at different times names have hopped in and out with the type of regularity you'd expect for professional athletes.

What's remained worryingly consistent this season--and about five or six seasons leading up to this point--is the never-ending presence of a first-team fullback. Jose Enrique joined Kelly a few weeks back when he tore his hamstring at QPR, and now we learn that Glen Johnson's a doubt for the weekend due to stiffness in his hamstring:

"We've got Jose Enrique, who is making good progress on his injury but it's probably too soon for him this weekend. By next week he'll be fine.

"Glen Johnson has been stiff in his hamstring so we're monitoring the risk in that for the weekend. Nothing serious, but something we'll assess over the next 24 hours.

"Pepe won't be available for the weekend, he'll just miss out. I'd assume that after the weekend he'll be fine. I wouldn't have played him in the game anyway."

The injury (if we can even call it that) appears minor, and it'd make good sense for him to be left out for the Oldham trip ahead of Wednesday's important visit to the Emirates, with a start likely for Jack Robinson. Good news on Enrique and Pepe Reina as well, as they're on the cusp of making their respective returns, albeit to positions where Brendan Rodgers has players performing at a fairly high level in Johnson and Brad Jones.

But the lasting problem remains, in that there's no less than three injured fullbacks on the books right now, and if we're counting Jon Flanagan, who injured his knee last week, that makes four. Robinson spent much of last season sidelined and has struggled to break through this year, and with Danny Wilson away to Hearts and Daniel Agger ineffective when deployed at left-back in the past, there's no real options left. Unless we count Stewart Downing, who can do a job if asked, and Jonjo Shelvey, who's nothing if not opportunistic.

Maybe it's because the Emiliano Insua talk has escalated over the past few days; the former Liverpool player is either headed to Gremio or Atletico Madrid, and most of the focus has been on the potential sell-on fee that the club would receive to buy someone else. Little mention of the good work Insua did while at the club in very difficult circumstances--he was a regular during Liverpool's fantastic 2008-2009 season, and when Fabio Aurelio got injured for the sixty-fourth time, he filled in admirably.

As 19 and 20 year-olds are wont to do, he hit a rough patch of form, but with zero cover available, he had to play on, and once Rafa Benitez was railroaded out, Christian Purslow did what anyone with soft ramen for a brain would do and hung a For Sale sign around the young Argentine's neck to kick off a saga that lasted a full year-plus.

So I'm not excited about a sell-on fee for Insua at all, especially with four senior fullbacks suffering from some sort of injury, and most of the clamor in the transfer market about another attacking midfielder. Liverpool's actual fullbacks--not Stewart Downing, not Jordan Henderson, not Jonjo Shelvey--are nearly all on very thin ice form or fitness-wise, and that's a problem that needs to be addressed.

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