Liverpool look set to be without Lucas Leiva for at least the whole of March after Jurgen Klopp confirmed that he is set to miss five to six weeks with an ongoing thigh complaint. The Brazilian came close to leaving Anfield during last summer's transfer window after making just 16 Premier League starts under Brendan Rodgers in 2014/15, but has since re-established himself as a dependable first-team regular.
Although a combative central midfielder by trade, Lucas has occasionally been used as a makeshift centre-back in recent months. He was surprisingly chosen ahead of Kolo Toure as Mamadou Sakho's defensive partner for the recent Capital One Cup final, coping well with the threat of Sergio Aguero during a gruelling 120 minutes before seeing his tame effort saved by Willy Caballero in the decisive penalty shootout.
It subsequently emerged that the 29-year-old had actually suffered the injury while taking that spot-kick and he was quickly ruled out of the 3-0 victory over Manchester City as the respective teams met for the second time in just three days at Anfield. Any hope that the player might be available for the trip to Crystal Palace on 6 March has now been extinguished and it seems that he will also be sidelined for both Europa League last-16 ties against Manchester United, in addition to further Premier League fixtures against the likes of Southampton and Tottenham.
"No Lucas," Klopp, who confirmed that the problem was affecting his quad, was quoted as saying by The Mirror at his pre-match press conference. "Lucas is unfortunately a little bit more serious than we heard about...It was only because he was a little bit injured before. Naturally he didn't feel it too much but after the shot it was done."
When asked how long his absence might last, the manager replied: "I don't know exactly, about five or six weeks. Not too good."
Liverpool will remain without long-term absentees Joe Gomez and Danny Ings at Selhurst Park, while Kevin Stewart is also out with an ankle injury sustained last month. Sakho remains questionable having only returned to light exercises after his nasty clash of heads with Emre Can that led to the French defender being replaced just 25 minutes into the cup final.
Daniel Sturridge looks likely to be involved after playing a full part in training on Thursday (3 March). The injury-plagued striker missed the second clash with City after suffering from cramp that prevented him from taking a penalty at Wembley.
"Mama [trained for the] first time today [a] little bit," Klopp said. "But we didn't really do a lot today because it was the second day after a game. The only session we have is tomorrow and we have to see how he is then. But today was the first day he did a little bit more."
On Sturridge's fitness, he added: "Yep. He trained completely normal yesterday."