Liverpool have been dealt a huge blow with the news midfielder Adam Lallana is set to miss Saturday’s Merseyside derby after sustaining a thigh injury on England duty.
The 28-year-old, who featured for just over an hour in last week’s friendly in Germany, played the full 90 minutes of the 2-0 World Cup qualifying win over Lithuania at Wembley.
However, Lallana sustained a kick during that match and is hampered by a thigh injury which prevented him from training on Tuesday with the rest of his team-mates who returned from international duty.
His absence for the 228th Merseyside derby at Anfield on Saturday lunchtime will be a significant loss as Lallana performs a key role in manager Jurgen Klopp’s pressing game.
The club have not put a timescale on Lallana’s recovery time but there is speculation he could be out for up to a month.
Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson, who has not played since February 11 because of a foot injury, travelled to the club’s Tenerife training camp last week but was also not present at training on Tuesday and he too is facing a race against time to be fit.
Klopp will hope, however, the private jet the club have chartered to bring Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino back from South America will mean the Brazil internationals are back in time to recover and prepare properly for the weekend.
The pair are involved in Brazil’s World Cup qualifier at home to Paraguay on Tuesday evening but the plan is to have them back at the club’s Melwood training base for Thursday.
Liverpool did similar for the last international break in November – to bring their Brazilians home from Peru – as they shared the cost with Manchester City and Paris St Germain, whose players were also on board.
The derby is a game Coutinho does not want to miss, having scored twice in seven cross-city encounters since joining the Reds in January 2013, enjoying two wins and five draws.
He missed the last-gasp victory at Goodison Park in December as he was injured but is keen to reacquaint himself with the fixture.
“The rivalry is like any derby – it’s intense,” said Coutinho.
“I’ve experienced these games both home and away and the intensity is equal with the fans.
“You’re always on TV, it’s one of the most difficult games and I don’t think this one will be any different.
“The week before the game, you can’t wait to play and if you win, the level of joy you give to the fans is amazing.
“They’re the victories you always enjoy.”
There is plenty at stake in the 228th Merseyside derby with Ronald Koeman’s seventh-placed side just six points behind the Reds, in fourth.
With Manchester United and Arsenal, both with two matches in hand, waiting to take advantage, Coutinho knows Liverpool cannot afford any mistakes.
“It’s very important, obviously it’s our aim (to finish in the top four),” the 24-year-old said on liverpoolfc.com.
“All the games are like finals and if we’re going to achieve our aim we need a lot of points.”