Liverpool defender Joe Gomez faces a lengthy spell on the sidelines after undergoing knee surgery on Thursday, leaving manager Jurgen Klopp grappling with a deepening defensive crisis.
The centre-back damaged a tendon in his left knee on Wednesday during an England training session.
There were fears that the injury was similar to that suffered last month by Virgil van Dijk, who required surgery for knee ligament damage, but Liverpool have confirmed Gomez did not suffer ligament damage.
“Liverpool Football Club can confirm Joe Gomez has today undergone successful surgery to repair a tendon in his left knee,” the Premier League club said in a statement.
The club said the issue was restricted to Gomez’s tendon.
“No timescale is being placed upon his return, though the issue is likely to rule him out for a significant part of the remainder of 2020/21,” the club added.
Gomez, 23, joins team-mates Van Dijk and Fabinho on the sidelines, leaving Joel Matip as the only fit senior centre-back on Liverpool’s books.
The injury to Gomez will only increase manager Jurgen Klopp’s anger at the high number of matches that his squad are being forced to play in a crowded schedule caused by the late start to the season because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Premier League champions also have concerns over right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold, who was forced off during Sunday’s 1-1 draw at Manchester City on Sunday with a calf problem and withdrawn from England duty.
England boss Gareth Southgate said he was worried when he witnessed the Gomez incident.
“What was upsetting was to see he was in a fair bit of pain and the fact was there was nobody around him when the injury happened, so I didn’t like that element of it,” he said on Wednesday.
“So, as I say, my immediate thoughts are with him because he’s had some difficulties with injury in the past.”
Gomez’s career has been blighted by injuries, including a season-ending anterior cruciate ligament injury in 2015.
He injured his ankle representing England in a friendly against the Netherlands in March 2018 before breaking his leg later that year.