Virgil van Dijk, a defender for Liverpool, will be out for “more than a month” with a hamstring issue, according to manager Jurgen Klopp on Friday.
The 19-time English champions are now seventh in the Premier League standings and 16 points behind league leaders Arsenal.
The 31-year-old Dutch defender will probably miss the Premier League games against Brighton, Chelsea, and Wolves after getting hurt during Monday’s 3-1 loss to Brentford.
He must hurry to recover in time for both the Merseyside derby on February 13 and the first leg of the Champions League quarterfinal match against Real Madrid the following week.
“It is a surprise for us and obviously a big blow,” Klopp said on the eve of his team’s FA Cup third-round tie against Wolves.
“The diagnosis was pretty harsh and we talk about weeks, more than a month, but I hope it goes quick. He never had an issue with muscles before and it just now happened. It was one sprint too much in that moment.”
Van Dijk’s compatriot Cody Gakpo, whose transfer from PSV Eindhoven was finalised this week following an impressive World Cup, could make his debut for Liverpool on Saturday.
“I’m very positive about him,” said Klopp. “Cody gets the same amount of time like each player. You have to settle in offensively, it’s not that easy. He comes in from a different league. That’s always difficult.”
He added: “Of course with our situation, injuries to the strikers as well, it’s really nice to have a player who is pretty natural in a lot of things in the offensive part of the game and knows where the goal stands.
“He is obviously full of joy, enjoying each second in the moment. That is very good. He looks really good, really promising.”