Dalglish sweating over injury pile-up
Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish faces an anxious few days as he waits to discover the extent of the latest batch of injuries to hit the club. The fitness of captain Steven Gerrard will be of utmost concern after the midfielder sustained another groin problem in training on Friday having just recovered from an operation on a similar but not identical injury.
Johnson went off with what appeared to be a hamstring problem after just eight minutes while Daniel Agger followed him off the pitch midway through the first half with a knee tendon injury. It only serves to compound the problems in defence which Dalglish already had.
Johnson has filled in on the left for the first three months of the Scot's tenure since taking over from Roy Hodgson in early January because of an injury to Fabio Aurelio and the woeful form of Paul Konchesky which saw him loaned to Championship side Nottingham Forest.
Martin Kelly had been excelling at right-back until he tore a hamstring at West Ham a month ago and he suffered a recurrence of the problem which is likely to keep him out for longer. That has meant central defender Jamie Carragher has had to occupy a right-sided role he has not played regularly for several years.
With Johnson and Agger seemingly unlikely to be fit in time for next Monday's visit of Manchester City it appears Dalglish will have to field a back four which contains, arguably, just one of his first-choice players in Carragher. Sotirios Kyrgiakos, who conceded Liverpool's first penalty at the Hawthorns, is likely to partner Martin Skrtel in the centre.
The 19-year-old Danny Wilson, signed from Rangers in the summer as a centre-back, filled in on the left on Saturday - as he has done in the past - but could have to stand in again. It does mean the defensive resources will be stretched to the limit, however, with youth team players Jack Robinson (17) and John Flanagan (18) likely to be drafted into the squad as cover.
Carragher has stressed that whatever their problems are, they have to be overcome. "Injuries are part of the game and you have to deal with it," he said. "That is what the squad is there for. It happens to other teams, so we can't use it as an excuse."
Despite suffering a setback in their bid to qualify for Europe next season, midfielder Jay Spearing insists the squad do not see fifth-placed Tottenham's five-point lead as insurmountable.
"We will never give up the fight for Europe and there are still plenty of points to play for," he said. "With Tottenham only drawing it was a great opportunity to close the gap but it was a massive disappointment for ourselves.
"We need a big response against Manchester City. We know we are good enough to beat them and we will be giving it everything we have got to make that happen."