Liverpool's hopes of closing the seven-point gap to the dominant Manchester clubs at the top of the Premier League table and picking up the pace in Europe over the coming weeks were dealt a significant blow on Tuesday (10 October), with news that influential attacker Sadio Mane is set for another spell on the sidelines.
The 25-year-old sustained a hamstring injury while on international duty for Senegal during their World Cup qualifier against the Cape Verde Islands on Saturday, and was substituted with just one minute remaining of a 2-0 victory in Praia.
Fears that Mane was again poised for a stint in the treatment room were subsequently confirmed by Liverpool, who released a short statement via their official website announcing he would be out for approximately six weeks.
Assuming that prediction is accurate and Mane does not complete his rehabilitation ahead of schedule, such a time frame could see the former Southampton forward sit out up to nine matches.
That slate begins with the small matter of a high-profile derby clash with northwest rivals Manchester United at Anfield and encompasses the Champions League double-header against Group E minnows Maribor.
Liverpool travel to face Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley Stadium and also host a Huddersfield Town side managed by Jurgen Klopp's former Borussia Dortmund protege David Wagner in between those meetings with the reigning Slovenian champions.
Mane similarly stands to miss the top-flight fixture against West Ham United in early November and, with the Reds eager to stress that his lay-off will not officially commence until this weekend, could also be ruled out for the subsequent trip to Sevilla and home match against Chelsea, as well as the visit of former employers Southampton.
Providing there are no setbacks, then it seems likely at this stage that the player will be in contention to make his return in a midweek encounter with Stoke City at the bet365 Stadium on Wednesday 29 November.
This is the second notable setback of the season for Mane, who already missed a 1-1 draw with Burnley and successive league and cup contests against Leicester City last month after being sent off for a high boot on goalkeeper Ederson during the first half of a 5-0 drubbing at Manchester City.
A three-match suspension was upheld by the Football Association (FA), who rejected his claim of excessive punishment.
Liverpool also had to cope without Mane during Senegal's 2017 Africa Cup of Nations campaign back in January and again for the final eight matches of last season after he required surgery on a knee injury suffered in the Merseyside derby. Their record without him causing havoc in that productive three-pronged attack certainly leaves a lot to be desired, as the statistics prove.
Mane has scored 16 goals and provided 10 assists in 38 total appearances for Liverpool since arriving from Southampton for a £34m ($44.9m) fee in June 2016. So far this term, he has netted four times in 12 outings for club and country.