Everton have confirmed details of another long-term injury blow prior to Saturday's (1 April) 228th Merseyside derby showdown against Liverpool at Anfield, with defender Ramiro Funes Mori expected to miss the rest of the 2016-17 season due to an injury sustained on international duty with Argentina earlier this week.
The centre-back was stretchered off with a potentially serious knee problem during the first half of a World Cup qualifier against Bolivia on Tuesday night (28 March) and initial reports that he may have suffered a torn meniscus in La Paz have now been officially substantiated.
"Ramiro Funes Mori could miss the remainder of the season after injuring his knee whilst on international duty with Argentina," Everton said in a statement.
"It has been confirmed that the defender suffered a torn meniscus in Argentina's 2-0 defeat to Bolivia on Tuesday evening. Funes Mori was forced off after just 36 minutes in the World Cup qualifier in La Paz."
The Toffees further reiterated that, while Funes Mori is due to meet with a surgeon next week, "the initial diagnosis suggests the 26-year-old is likely to be out of action for the rest of the campaign".
Everton boss Ronald Koeman had already been left ruing the latest international break after Seamus Coleman was left with tibia and fibula fractures in his right leg after falling victim to a shocking red-card challenge from Neil Taylor during a goalless draw between the Republic of Ireland and Wales in Dublin.
The affable right-back quickly underwent surgery and now faces several months on the sidelines, with Fifa set to cover his wages during that period of absence as part of their Club Protection Programme. World football's governing body are also said to have opened proceedings against Aston Villa defender Taylor, who could now see his automatic one-match suspension extended.
Already missing long-term absentees Yannick Bolasie and Muhamed Besic and with January arrival Morgan Schneiderlin fighting to recover from a minor calf problem picked up in the 4-0 thumping of Hull City, Koeman has yet again been at loggerheads with Ireland over the condition of James McCarthy.
The former Wigan Athletic midfielder was set to start against Wales despite a hamstring issue that had ruled him out of club action since a 3-2 defeat at Tottenham Hotspur on 5 March, only to be withdrawn from the first XI courtesy of an injury sustained during the warm-up. An irate Koeman was left angered by that setback and subsequently criticised both McCarthy and O'Neill while contrasting Ireland's approach with that of Roberto Martinez and Belgium.
"It was a final decision against the [judgement of the] medical staff of Ireland and also against the medical staff of Everton," he told the Liverpool Echo. "And there are two people responsible for that. One is the player by himself. Finally, if he says, 'Yes. I'm fit', okay, but even the player needs protection from the manager and, once again, they didn't give that protection to the player."
McCarthy will not be available for the derby, whilst Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool are without Adam Lallana, Ovie Ejaria, Adam Bogdan and Danny Ings. Captain Jordan Henderson could return from a foot injury, although Daniel Sturridge remains doubtful with a hip problem.