Glen Johnson Shining at Left Back, but What Does It Mean for His England Career?

Neri Stein@neristeinFeatured ColumnistJanuary 26, 2011

Glen Johnson has a new 'do and a new position. He's been quite a revelation for the Reds as a left back.
Glen Johnson has a new 'do and a new position. He's been quite a revelation for the Reds as a left back.Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Kenny Dalglish has been in charge at Anfield (this time around) for five games now, and one thing is clear: He’s going to play whomever he wants wherever he wants including bringing Christian Poulsen in to muscle his way around the midfield, putting Raul Meireles just off star striker Fernando Torres and leaving Joe Cole on the bench.

His biggest change however has been moving England’s first-choice right back Glen Johnson to left back. How do you like that, Fabio Capello?

Many, Liverpool fans chief among them, have questioned Johnson’s defensive capabilities due to his tendency to wander forward as often as possible. But on the other side of the pitch, he has been quite strong defensively while still getting forward and providing his teammates with excellent crosses.

Against Fulham Wednesday night, left winger Damien Duff spent almost the entire night trying not to let Johnson get past him, instead of the other way around.

Even more promising for the Reds, 20-year-old Martin Kelly has been an outstanding replacement for Johnson at right back. Kelly is a product of Liverpool’s youth system, which hasn’t produced a regular first-team player for the Reds since a certain Steven Gerrard.

The left back position has been a revolving door at Liverpool since John Arne Riise was inexplicably allowed to leave in 2008, but King Kenny might have found a system that works, at least for now.

But what does this switch-of-play mean for Johnson’s England career? He surely won’t replace Ashley Cole at left back anytime soon, but will he be able to retain his normal spot if he’s not getting enough time there?

Well, Capello may not have much of a choice.

Johnson was the only recognized right back in South Africa for the Three Lions, while Manchester City’s Micah Richards has thrown himself in the mix this season, but after that, the talent pool is very shallow. What’s more is it hasn’t even been two years since all of England was singing Johnson’s right-backing proficiencies while he was at Portsmouth. He can’t be that bad, can he?

Then again, if Kelly’s form keeps up and even improves, he may steal both of Johnson’s positions.

This may just be a momentary fix for the Reds, but if the team keeps improving and even winning, no doubt, Dalglish will stick with it.

One thing is for certain: King Kenny’s new tactics don’t say a whole lot for former England left back Paul Konchesky.