No new year’s bonus for Johnson

No definitive timescale will be put on his recovery until Johnson

visits another specialist to assess the extent of the damage.

“Johnson has a problem, so he’ll see a specialist and then we’ll

talk but we know he’ll be out for at least one month,” said

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez. “But we are waiting for another

opinion and then we’ll know how long.” Right-back has become a

troublesome position for Benitez as Swiss international Philipp

Degen has struggled to settle after injury wrecked his first season

after signing in the summer of 2008. The 26-year-old did not make

his Premier League debut until this September and has been

unconvincing in the first team, getting sent off in the 3-1 defeat

to Fulham at the end of October. Benitez’s likely option is to move

Jamie Carragher from central defence to fill a role he is not

entirely comfortable with. He could also give Stephen Darby, 21, an

extended run in the side while 19-year-old Martin Kelly – who made

his first start in the Champions League defeat at home to Lyon in

October – is currently sidelined with injury. If the Liverpool boss

should decide to dip into the transfer market it is unlikely he

would be looking for anything other than a short-term loan deal. On

the positive front, Benitez is hopeful of having Albert Riera back

from a hamstring problem within the next few days. “Riera will

start training tomorrow, so hopefully in the next week he can be

available,” said Benitez. “Kelly and Nabil El-Zhar still need

maybe one or two weeks.”