Liverpool’s injury situation shows no signs of improving after playmaker Philippe Coutinho was ruled out until February.
The Brazil international is the latest player to fall victim to a hamstring strain – Dejan Lovren also sustained a similar problem in Tuesday’s Capital One Cup semi-final victory at Stoke – and his extended absence is a significant blow to an already threadbare squad.
Manager Jurgen Klopp is likely to face Exeter in the FA Cup on Friday with no senior centre-back with Kolo Toure’s issues with cramp at the Britannia Stadium expected to keep him on the sidelines alongside Lovren, Mamadou Sakho and Martin Skrtel.
As a result Klopp is looking at reinforcements in the transfer window but none will arrive in time for the cup tie.
“Phil is more serious than Dejan, [who is more serious] than Kolo but none of these three will be available for tomorrow,” he said.
“With muscle injuries you don’t know. Kolo was cramp and that is not a problem but after three days it is not possible to play the next game but for next week it should not be a problem.
JK: "Kolo should be available next week, Dejan will be available after Manchester United. Phil needs one-two weeks longer." #LFC— Liverpool FC (@LFC) January 7, 2016
“With Dejan will be available after Man United (on January 17) and Phil needs one, maybe two or three weeks longer.)
Klopp has at least 10 first-team players currently unavailable which has forced him to take immediate action by recalling players out on loan.
Having already brought winger Ryan Kent back from League One Coventry he has now summoned centre-back Tiago Ilori, who has yet to make an appearance in English football despite arriving in September 2013, back from Aston Villa while forward Sheyi Ojo has returned from Wolves.
And Klopp has not ruled more on-loan players returning – defender Andre Wisdom is on loan at Norwich but he has not played since mid-December because of a hamstring injury while fellow youngster Lloyd Jones has been out for three months with an ankle problem at Blackpool.
Liverpool have until midday on Friday to register players for the FA Cup.
“We have thought the last few days about what we can do in our situation and the first thing is we take back our own players,” Klopp added.
“That is a normal thing, even if they have not the perfect situation at the clubs where they are on loan like it was with Ojo and Kent or Tiago.
“These are our players and we have a situation. In my opinion, the best skill and the biggest talents should be in your own club so they can play together at under-21 and develop as a team.
“If they make big steps then pick them so you always have them around you.
“Now we take them back and it is a big chance for the boys but there is no pressure because they are so young.
“If they do well they can make the next step quickly but if not they have time - that is the good thing when you are young.
“We want to work with them and we will see what happens.
“I am not too sure at this moment [whether any more will be brought back] but it is possible.
“An offensive winger and centre-half is (key) for us at the moment.”