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Liverpool midfielder Lucas has emerged as a major fitness doubt for the Premier League visit of Manchester City. Jurgen Klopp's side welcome a familiar foe to Merseyside on Wednesday (2 March), just three days after suffering penalty shoot-out heartache against the same opposition in the 2015-16 Capital One Cup final.
With Martin Skrtel not yet fit enough to start after two months out with a hamstring problem and Dejan Lovren still suffering from an unspecified illness, Lucas was selected ahead of Kolo Toure to continue his role as a makeshift centre-back at Wembley. The Brazilian's performance throughout the match itself was committed and highly impressive, although later tarnished as he became the first of three Liverpool players to see their spot-kicks saved by Manuel Pellegrini's second-choice goalkeeper Willy Caballero.
As if that was not quite enough, it appears that Lucas also sustained a muscle injury in the process of missing from 12 yards that will deny him the opportunity to seek swift revenge at Anfield. Liverpool could drop out of the top 10 this week if they fail to beat City, and if Watford and Chelsea both win their respective matches.
"We have to wait for a few things, but it doesn't look too good with Lucas – he will not be available," Klopp was quoted as saying by the Liverpool official website during a press conference. "He had problems with a muscle when he shot the penalty, so I think he is not available. We have to wait, but I don't think so."
If Skrtel and Lovren are still unavailable, then Liverpool could face a real problem in central defence. Mamadou Sakho has started regularly under the new regime, yet lasted just 25 minutes of the cup final before suffering a nasty clash of heads with teammate Emre Can. Although he clearly wanted to play on, the sensible decision was eventually made to replace him with Toure.
Questions were also raised over the identity of the losing team's penalty takers, with many supporters bemused as to why Daniel Sturridge did not step up. It was subsequently revealed that the injury-plagued striker had been struggling with cramp and at this stage it is unclear if either he or Sakho will be ready to face City once again.
"We have not too much news [on Sturridge and Sakho]," Klopp added. We only trained today for four hours...We had to make a decision on the sideline and it was the right one, but I have heard nothing on other effects. Daniel had cramp, but we've trained for just four hours. We'll have to wait a few more hours."