A growing injury crisis could force Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp into the transfer market as his playing resources become thinner on the ground.
Both playmaker Philippe Coutinho and centre-back Dejan Lovren sustained hamstring problems in the 1-0 Capital One Cup semi-final first leg win at Stoke.
It means he currently has 10 players on the sidelines – at least with five hamstring strains – and his only fit centre-back Kolo Toure suffered badly with cramp late on at the Britannia Stadium.
A £5.1million deal has already been lined up for Red Star Belgrade midfielder Marko Grujic, set to be confirmed on Wednesday, but the 19-year-old will immediately be loaned back for the remainder of the season.
Any reinforcements Klopp may be considering will not arrive in time for Friday’s FA Cup trip to Exeter but the German is considering making an unscheduled move in the January window.
“In this moment with no centre-back fit I would say it is a situation where we have to think about going into the transfer market,” he said.
“Two weeks ago we had three centre-backs, that’s a good situation, at the start of the season we had five, now we have none.
“Injuries? Yeah that’s it, we will look at our training! We don’t train, we only recover, that is the situation now? There is no training.
“But it’s no problem really. I am responsible for these things and if you want to make me responsible then it’s okay.
“We have five hamstrings (Coutinho, Lovren, Martin Skrtel, Jordan Rossiter and Divock Origi plus Daniel Sturridge is still rehabilitating from one) and it’s my responsibility, but it is like it is and we have to see what we can do.”
Stoke manager Mark Hughes was frustrated his side never got going in the tie but was thankful they limited the damage.
“First half sometimes you have to give credit to the opposition,” he said.
“They restricted space to good effect, the same as we do when we try to impose our tactics.
“They had the benefit of the goal and as a consequence they could drop deeper and protect it.
“We dominated the second half but we didn’t get that break.
“The key was that we didn’t concede another and that was a danger. If we conceded another one that would have been a huge task.
“We need to get back into the tie and see where it takes us. We have the capability to get back into it.
“We are not deflated by the performance or the result but the key is we are still in it.”