West Ham United's preparations for their Saturday (4 November) teatime Premier League encounter against Liverpool have been rocked by the news that defender Jose Fonte will miss the remainder of 2017 through injury.
The Portuguese centre-back, who joined the Hammers from Southampton for an £8m ($10.4m) fee during the January transfer window, was replaced by Declan Rice after 75 minutes of a last-gasp 2-2 draw at Crystal Palace last weekend after sustaining a foot problem.
Fonte was considered as a real doubt for Liverpool's visit to London Stadium and he has now taken to social media to inform supporters that he will be sidelined for approximately two to three months.
"Difficult to digest...but with my mind already focused on a quick recovery," he wrote on Instagram. "I will be back stronger in 2 or 3 months. I look forward to the grind. Big win tomorrow would definitely help."
Such a blow has only served to exacerbate something of a defensive selection headache for West Ham, with perennially under-fire manager Slaven Bilic also without James Collins (ankle) and Sam Byram (thigh).
Winston Reid and Aaron Cresswell have both trained in the build-up to Liverpool after recovering from a calf strain and a dead leg respectively, although veteran right-back Pablo Zabaleta will serve a one-match suspension after collecting his fifth yellow card of the season already at Selhurst Park.
Last season's top scorer Michail Antonio, who was heavily criticised for his naive mistake that contributed to Wilfried Zaha's stoppage-time leveller for Palace, is nursing a recurring rib injury first suffered during the listless 3-0 home defeat by Brighton & Hove Albion a fortnight ago and is not expected to return until the post-international break trip to Watford on 19 November.
Liverpool's injury list, meanwhile, is currently as lengthy as any other team in the top-flight. Philippe Coutinho, Dejan Lovren, Adam Lallana, Nathaniel Clyne, Danny Ward and Adam Bogdan are all in the treatment room at present, while Georginio Wijnaldum limped out of the midweek Champions League win over Slovenian champions Maribor after rolling his ankle early on.
However, the Reds could be boosted by the return of influential attacker Sadio Mane in east London. The Senegal forward picked up a hamstring strain on international duty last month and has now missed almost a full month of football.
He was initially expected to be sidelined for six weeks in total, although continued his rapid recovery by returning to first-team training ahead of schedule at Melwood on Thursday.
Jurgen Klopp, who is keen to reach a compromise with Senegal counterpart Aliou Cisse over the player's involvement in an upcoming pair of final 2018 World Cup qualifiers against South Africa, stressed that Liverpool would need to see how Mane recovers but seemed optimistic that he could get "at least 20-25 minutes" of competitive action under his belt on Saturday.