Liverpool Receive Defensive Boost ahead of Chelsea Test

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By Chandrashekar Srinivasan | November 10, 2012 8:25 PM EST

Liverpool coach Brendan Rodgers has confirmed England right back Glen Johnson will be fit and available for the high-profile weekend clash against Chelsea. The Reds will travel to Stamford Bridge for a Sunday kick-off, struggling in 12th place in the league. In contrast, their hosts for the game are second, with 23 points from 10 games, and only a point behind leaders Manchester United.

"Glen looks very strong so he'll be fit for the weekend," Rodgers told the club's website, adding that goalkeeper Pepe Reina would face a late fitness test before the London game, "We'll assess Pepe over the next 24 hours, but he's making progress. If he doesn't make the weekend then certainly I'd anticipate him to be available the following week. He's working very hard and working very well."

The Spanish international is fighting off a hamstring injury, while Johnson has recovered from a muscle spasm he picked up last month.

However, the Anfield club will definitely have to do without summer signing Fabio Borini (the Italian striker will be unavailable for another two months at least, as he recovers from a fracture), Lucas Leiva (the Brazilian midfielder is at least two weeks away with a hip injury) and defender Martin Kelly (the Englishman has an ACL issue).

As for Chelsea, Roberto Di Matteo has only two players to worry about. England internationals Ashley Cole and Frank Lampard are both injured and unlikely to play any part in this game. Spanish playmaker Juan Mata does have a hamstring issue but will probably recover in time to play and central defenders David Luiz and John Terry return from their suspensions.

Rodgers on Suarez's Importance

Meanwhile, Rodgers also took time out to stress on the importance of Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez to the club's fortunes. The 25-year-old South American may have a turbulent personality but his value as a top-class forward cannot be questioned... particularly this season. Suarez has seven league goals in 10 games so far this season.

"Liverpool got a world-class striker in Luis, who has been absolutely breathtaking - particularly this season in some of his play. Luis's contribution for us is fantastic," the former Swansea City manager explained, adding, "He is a world-class striker and I'm blessed to work at a great club with great players and Luis is one of them."

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