We're a little less than 48 hours away from the return of Premier League football, and all things considered, the international break wasn't too terribly taxing for Liverpool's squad. Daniel Agger had a little heartbreak to deal with, Steven Gerrard played a few more minutes than we'd have hoped for, Martin Skrtel was sabotaged by his own goalkeeper, and Luis Suarez did Luis Suarezy things for Uruguay, but it's mostly good stuff for Brendan Rodgers' squad as they get set to resume league action on Saturday at Newcastle.
That positivity is born not only out of the end of the international break--the evil, evil international break--but also the fact that there's an almost entirely clean bill of health in the squad for the first time this season. Speaking at his press conference this morning (subscribers only), Rodgers confirmed that they'll be welcoming back Glen Johnson, Joe Allen, and Aly Cissokho to the first team, which proves a big boost for a squad that's found depth to be more hypothetical than practical this season.
Philippe Coutinho's not ready just yet, unfortunately, but the returning trio all have a part to play as Liverpool get set for a dizzying run through the rest of the fall. Two difficult away trips to Arsenal and Everton in November follow tricky ties with Newcastle and West Brom this month, and, as ever, December is set to be a make-or-break month with one fixture after another leading into Thunderdome, with visits to Spurs, Manchester City, and Chelsea set to see out 2013. Hold me.
Returns to fitness now are vital for that run; Glen Johnson's return is probably the most important in the squad right now, but he'll need time to get back up to speed, as will Joe Allen, who's been missing since the win over Notts County at the end of August. Aly Cissokho is probably the closest of the three after playing a full ninety minutes for the U21s last Monday, but like Allen, he hasn't seen action for the senior squad since the League Cup victory.
There's a chance that none of the three feature this weekend, and depending on their respective readiness for match action, that's arguably a good thing. That the options are starting to come available is what's most heartening, especially given the fact that they're only going to strengthen a squad that, despite lacking in depth, has managed to work its way level on points at the top of the Premier League.