Liverpool have suffered another injury blow after defender Joe Gomez was ruled out of this month’s Champions League final having undergone surgery on an ankle injury.
It also puts his World Cup participation in doubt as the 20-year-old looked a certain inclusion in England’s squad before sustaining the problem in a friendly against Holland in March.
Gomez admitted he probably came back too early from that and he aggravated it in recent matches against West Brom and Stoke, leading to the club deciding on surgery, Press Association Sport understands.
That means he will miss the Reds’ final home match of the season against Brighton and also the Champions League final against Real Madrid in Kiev at the end of the month.
He joins an injury list which includes Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (knee) and Joel Matip (thigh), who also had their campaigns ended prematurely, while Emre Can has not played since mid-March because of a back injury.
It further reduces manager Jurgen Klopp’s options heading into their crucial last two matches.
The Reds boss is not in the least surprised their quest to secure a top-four spot seems likely to come down to the final day but he remains confident they will succeed.
"I'm really happy that this very intense period is over now because we have one week to prepare for Brighton."— Liverpool FC (@LFC) May 8, 2018
Jürgen Klopp is hopeful #LFC will feel the benefits of a week's worth of match preparation 👉 https://t.co/X5v9VVcp9a pic.twitter.com/wmmtlvhSEC
Defeat to Chelsea on Sunday, following damaging draws against Stoke and West Brom, has taken the race for Champions League football next season into the last week of the season.
Unless Klopp’s best friend David Wagner and his Huddersfield side can pull off a surprise win at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday, then Liverpool go into Sunday’s home game against Brighton knowing they must at least match Chelsea’s result against Newcastle.
Should they fail, their very last chance of playing in the Champions League next season would require them to beat Real Madrid in Kiev.
“It’s my life, it’s our life, that we always make it a little bit more exciting,” Klopp told liverpoolfc.com.
“We had these situations a few times and it will be, for sure, exciting because Brighton is in a good moment, they played fantastic against (Manchester) United.
“But it’s all OK, as long as we have it in our own hands, life is good. We still have to take it then but we will try everything.”
After five matches – including an emotionally-draining two-legged Champions League semi-final – in 17 days Klopp at least has a full week to prepare for such a crucial fixture.
“I’m really happy that this very intense period is over now because we have one week to prepare for Brighton – that feels like a year and we will use that,” he added.
“Hopefully they all came through the game (against Chelsea) then one week is fantastic.
“If one or two had little problems then one week is short as well but so far I didn’t hear anything and I hope it stays like this.”