Philippe Coutinho will be sidelined at least until the end of this month and Dejan Lovren for the next 10 days with hamstring injuries sustained against Stoke City, Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp has confirmed.
The pair joined Liverpool's extensive injury list in the first half of Tuesday's League Cup semi-final win at the Britannia Stadium and will miss the FA Cup third-round trip to Exeter City tonight, plus next week's Premier League matches against Arsenal and Manchester United.
Kolo Touré will also be absent against Exeter, having suffered cramp late on against Stoke, bringing to 12 the number of Liverpool players out through injury.
Coutinho’s hamstring problem is the more severe and the Brazil international could be out until in early February.
Klopp said: “Phil is more serious than Dejan and Kolo, but none of the three players will be available tomorrow. With muscle injuries, you don’t know.
“Kolo was cramp, but after three days you can’t play the next game. Dejan will be available after Man United. Phil may need two to three weeks longer. It’s rare it’s quicker; sometimes it’s longer.”
Liverpool are scouring the transfer market for a central defender – with Touré, Lovren, Martin Skrtel and Mamadou Sakho in the treatment room – and have Sheyi Ojo, Tiago Ilori and Ryan Kent back from loan spells at Wolverhampton Wanderers, Aston Villa and Coventry City respectively as they look for numbers for the FA Cup trip. The returning three could feature against Exeter.
“We have thought about nothing else for the last few days,” said the Liverpool manager. “It is important we take our players back. These are our players and we have a situation. It is something we need to look at in the summer: the best talents should be in their club, so they can develop.
“Of course we have to react to the situation and not only to take new players. It is difficult to find quality players who are available now. Sometimes they are in difficult positions at their clubs or it is a question of money. It is not easy. Our eyes are open and we are watching the market.”
Connor Randall, Brad Smith and Cameron Brannagan are among the young players expected to travel to Exeter, with Klopp admitting before training yesterday that he does not know the options he has available. He said: "I will be there, for sure, and will take a few players with me. I have to make the right decision for Liverpool and for my team. I have to make changes, but at the moment I don't know who is available.
“The team that plays tomorrow will want to win 100 per cent, but it is true that it won’t be a team that has played together often. It is a chance for Exeter and they have to take it – that’s football. Our squad is big, with all the young players, and we have to use this quality now. It is a big chance for the boys, but there is no pressure, they are still young.”
Klopp refused to be drawn on Sunderland manager Sam Allardyce's claim that the high-intensity pressing game demanded by the former Borussia Dortmund coach is responsible for the glut of injuries. "I'm just glad a manager of his experience has time to talk about Liverpool's problems," he said. Guardian Service