Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson has admitted he was surprised his assessment of Glen Johnson's form had created such a fuss and apologised for any perceived criticism.
The England defender has not been up to scratch this season but has been troubled by injury and missed the last three matches with a groin problem.
After the midweek draw with Wigan Hodgson gave an honest assessment of how he thought the right-back had been playing, saying he had not yet reached the level which made him a regular in Fabio Capello's side.
"We all want Glen Johnson to find his England form, but that has nothing to do with him being injured at the moment," he said.
"That was just a general comment that I think I was entitled to make. We have a player with ability and we are hoping he is going to bring that ability to the team because we want to use it help us win matches.
"It is no good being a player with great ability if you are not able to bring that on to the field of play. We know Glen can and will do that but first and foremost Glen has to get fit and I'm hoping that will be the case by next Sunday (at home to West Ham) because he has made good progress."