Liverpool boss Gerard Houllier admits the loss of midfielder Dietmar Hamann for a fortnight is a huge blow to his team’s chances of turning their season around.
Hamann is out of tonight’s Worthington Cup quarter-final against Aston Villa and unless he stages a miraculous recovery he will also miss the weekend’s Merseyside derby.
The German midfielder played through the pain barrier during the defeat at Sunderland but now needs urgent attention to a shin problem.
Houllier said: “Didi will be out for a couple of weeks and that is a blow because he’s a very experienced player and midfielder, and we need that at times.”
Houllier insists he fully backs his beleaguered team despite a run which has seen them pick up just one Premiership point from a possible 18.
And he says that despite poor form he has no greater urgency to dip into the transfer market when the window opens again in January.
“If I think a player is right for us I will bring him in but at the moment I am quite happy with the players we have got.
“I know the mental strength of my players are qualities that will get us through – the mental stamina and the sticking together.
“Another factor is the fans. Some of them came onto the team bus on the way back from Sunderland and told me to keep the players’ chins up.
“They said they had been at the game and they had seen how unlucky we had been, and told us we played well.”
Houllier is able to bring back Emile Heskey for tonight’s clash with Villa after his problems with an ankle injury.
And he believes the much-maligned competition could prove to be a blessing in disguise given its timing.
“The best preparation for the derby game is to play to your full potential and unleash all the power. There is a lot of frustration about ourselves at the moment.
“This is not a distraction, it is a trophy – and it is our target to win it.”