Liverpool have suffered a devastating blow ahead of the Merseyside derby as midfielder Adam Lallana has been ruled out for up to four weeks after after being injured on international duty.
Lallana received a kick to the thigh during England’s 2-0 win over Lithuania on Sunday and he is now out of this weekend’s visit of neighbours Everton and forthcoming key fixtures as his club fights for a Champions League place.
Lallana was a notable absentee from training on Wednesday as he underwent tests on the knock.
The setback is highly unwelcome for Jürgen Klopp. Lallana is probably Liverpool’s player of the season and it is the second time in this campaign he has returned from England duty with an injury.
He missed several weeks in November after being hurt during an England friendly with Spain.
Lallana has become one of the most influential members of Gareth Southgate’s squad, but with the added responsibility has come more game time. He played the full 90 minutes of the World Cup qualifier, and also started last week’s friendly in Germany.
The midfielder did not immediately show any ill effects, posting on social media how he was looking ahead to derby week.
Liverpool’s squad depth – or lack of it – has been exposed in recent weeks. Klopp has had to promote numerous youngsters to his bench and the only consolation without Lallana is the prospect of captain Jordan Henderson returning.
Henderson has been stepping up his rehabilitation, but there will be much to consider before recalling him for a game of derby intensity after his lay-off with a foot problem.
Daniel Sturridge has been unavailable for weeks with an assortment of issues and there is no indication when he'll next play for Liverpool.
Klopp will be desperate to see Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino return healthy from Brazil’s meeting with Paraguay in the early hours of tomorrow morning.
Both Merseyside clubs can rue their luck after the international break, Everton suffering most torment having lost full back Seamus Coleman with a broken leg.