Liverpool have been hit with crushing injury news on the eve of their Champions League quarter-final first leg against Manchester City at Anfield.
The Reds are set to be without Joel Matip for both meetings following news that he is likely to miss the rest of the season.
Matip requires operation on a thigh injury he picked up during Saturday’s 2-1 win over Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park, Liverpool have confirmed on the club’s official website.
He will now not only miss the remainder of the Reds’ European journey, but also a defining string of fixtures in their battle to secure Champions League football for the 2018/2019 campaign.
The news arrives on the same day it was reported midfielder Emre Can failed to return to full training over the Easter weekend and is now facing an unconvincing race against time to be fit to face Pep Guardiola’s men.
Matip’s absence paves the way for Dejan Lovren to step up and find the consistency and reliability his manager and teammates require from him over a high-stakes conclusion to the season.
The Croatian has arguably been in better form than Matip of late and has regained respect since his first half collapse in October’s 4-1 defeat to Tottenham at Wembley.
He now faces the biggest 180 minutes of his Anfield career, with not only his defensive ability set to be put under pressure but potentially also his leadership alongside a Trent Alexander-Arnold facing a crucial duel with Leroy Sane.
Ragnar Klavan poses as another experienced option, although his lack of game time in recent months leaves him as a risky option for an occasion of such magnitude.
With Joe Gomez also missing through injury, the Reds cannot afford any more personnel setbacks.