Liverpool midfielder Naby Keita has been ruled out for at least two months with a groin injury which will mean he misses the African Nations Cup.
The Guinea international limped off midway through the first half of the 3-0 Champions League semi-final first leg defeat to Barcelona in the Camp Nou on Wednesday.
He is now likely to be sidelined until the squad return for pre-season training in July.
“It was really unlucky. Bad news, a high-grade adductor injury with the tendon rupture so it keeps him out for at least two months,” said Jurgen Klopp, who will be without the midfielder for Saturday’s trip to Newcastle, as well as home games against Barcelona and Wolves on the final day of the campaign.
“Bad news for us and for Guinea with the Africa Cup of Nations coming up. Not nice.
“Very serious. For sure he is not in the best moment. African Cup of Nations was a big target for him.”
Liverpool vice-captain James Milner has no intention of allowing their Camp Nou disappointment derail their bid to wrest the Premier League title from Manchester City – and he has not written off their European hopes either.
The 3-0 Champions League semi-final first-leg defeat in Barcelona was demoralising not only because the scoreline makes a comeback incredibly tough, but because it showed no reward for their performance.
Having kept Lionel Messi quiet for 75 minutes, Liverpool were undone by a late double from the Argentinian and the players now have to pick themselves off the floor for their crucial penultimate domestic match of the season at Newcastle on Saturday.
Win and they return to the top of the table and the pressure all goes back on City, who face an in-form Leicester on Monday.
And Milner is confident their focus will be spot-on at St James’ Park.
“I think we are used to playing games in quick succession and we’ve seen the character in this squad on more than one occasion over the last few years,” he said.
“We all know the character that is there. We need to be together and bounce back from that. I have no doubt that this team will do that.”
Considerable doubts remain, however, over their prospects of bouncing back at home to Barcelona next week.
If they can take any hope it is that Roma, whom Liverpool beat in last year’s semi-final, turned around a three-goal deficit against the Catalans.
Crucially, though, they had an away goal, but still scored three unanswered goals at home.
“Obviously it’s possible. If it’s possible anywhere then it is possible at Anfield,” added the veteran midfielder.
“We have seen special European nights there before and big comebacks. It’s going to be very difficult, we know that.
“We have to bounce back quickly from this with a big game at the weekend. Hopefully we can get a good result there and get a bit of positivity going into next week.”
The danger for Liverpool, as was evident in the first leg, is that Messi can be stifled for three-quarters of a game but still put in a decisive performance.
“He’s very hard to stop. He is definitely one of the greatest to have ever played the game, if not the greatest,” said Milner.
“When he does things like he does, it’s tough to stop. We knew that but we thought we could hurt them as well.
“You can’t concentrate on him too much because they have another 10 out there who are pretty good. You try stopping him the best you can when he is obviously on it. It’s very difficult.
“Many teams have tried different ways to do it. The free-kick was obviously pretty much from nothing.
“We have to focus on the positives from our side for the second leg. We created chances and we played a pretty solid game apart from the goals we conceded, which we could have done a bit better.
“But it’s going to be very difficult.”
Liverpool boss Virgil van Dijk is aware that his team can still go trophy-less after a brilliant season, but dismissed claims that it would be seen as a failure.
The Reds are now tasked to come back from a 3-0 deficit against Barcelona in the second leg of the Champions League.
If they fail to achieve this and Manchester City don’t slip up in the Premier League, Liverpool could end the season without a trophy.
Van Dijk has refused to count his team out of the tie and believes they have what it takes to punish Barcelona in the second leg next Tuesday.
“We’re not going to think about that,” he told DAZN.
“We’re having a good season and we will try to win something and, if not, we keep working.
“We’re in both races and I think many, many teams would love to be in our position.”
“Anything is possible in football. We definitely believe. That’s how we are,” he said.
“We will never give up and we showed today that we can definitely create big chances against them, the only thing is we have to try and score them.”
Halfway through the tie.— Liverpool FC (@LFC) May 1, 2019
A big second leg needed at Anfield. 👊