Liverpool face the prospect of being without Virgil Van Dijk for several months after it was confirmed their key defender requires knee surgery - but they are reluctant to rule him out for the season.
News of anterior cruciate ligament damage to the 29-year-old, sustained in a controversial high challenge by Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford in Saturday's 2-2 Merseyside derby draw, is the nightmare scenario for the Reds.
"Following surgery, Van Dijk will begin a rehabilitation programme with the club's medical team to enable him to reach full fitness as soon as possible," a club statement said.
Not only does the injury rob them of one of their most influential players for the majority of their Premier League title defence, but also leaves Liverpool with just two senior centre-backs in Joel Matip, who has been plagued by niggling injuries himself, and Joe Gomez.
Jurgen Klopp opted not to replace Dejan Lovren when he left for Zenit St Petersburg in the summer and was content to gamble on utilising midfielder Fabinho as cover.
The damage suffered in his clash with Pickford means Van Dijk will have to have an operation. However, club sources are unwilling to write off his season just yet, considering the player's previously excellent fitness record, and remain hopeful he can still play a part in the campaign at some point.