Despite all of the signings made by Liverpool this summer, they do lack depth at certain position, highlighted by the latest Glen Johnson injury, which will probably force Brendan Rodgers to use someone who isn’t natural to the right back position, or a player like Andre Wisdom who doesn’t provide the skill set the manager wants to see in the position.
Because Rodgers isn’t looking for traditional full backs who defend most of the time, but he’s after wing backs who provide him with width and attacking options down the flanks, especially when he uses Philippe Coutinho and Jordan Henderson as his wide-midfield players, always trying to move into the center.
If Martin Kelly was healthy, he would have probably been the immediate and automatic choice to replace Johnson, who isn’t going to be out for as long as initially thought. Kelly, a tall and quicker-than-he-looks defender was on the right path to take over the position before his injury threw him back light years in terms of his progression.
But Kelly is a couple of months away from full recovery according to Rodgers, or at least from being good enough to play for the first team. This makes Andre Wisdom, who has been used sparingly over the last couple of seasons, as the number one option behind Johnson, and the likely player to start in the position.
The problem with Wisdom is that he provides almost nothing in terms of offense. He isn’t too confident in his speed and abilities to get back, which is clear to see whenever something that isn’t defending is required of him.
Rodgers can get creative by using either Kolo Toure or young Tiago Ilori, who has the ability to play a bit wider than centre back, in the position. If he does use Toure, who has played right back in his younger days but might be a bit out of his depth at the position at the moment and especially with his injury issue still hovering above his head, that might leave an opening for Mamadou Sakho to begin his Anfield career earlier than initially thought, although he is expected to become a starting centre back very soon.
Whatever Rodgers makes of his makeshift right back at the moment, it’s not going to be the same as Johnson. It might give him a face that makes less mistakes in the back four than Johnson repeatedly does, but it hurts Liverpool greatly in their ability to attack down the right flank, and might force Rodgers to think about using Victor Moses in order give himself a wide option for attack, but it’s hard seeing him benching Henderson at this point.