Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson will miss this weekend's Merseyside Derby and is set to miss a handful of fixtures beyond that too, according to his manager Jürgen Klopp.
The Reds host neighbours Everton at Anfield in Saturday's lunchtime kick-off, their first game since a hard-fought 1-1 draw at top-four rivals Manchester City a fortnight ago.
Yet despite travelling to Tenerife for the club's week-long warm weather training camp where the club hoped the midfielder would return to training, he is still unavailable from the problem he picked up after a coming together in training with a team-mate in February.
Henderson's absence a 'question of time'
Klopp revealed in his pre-Everton press conference that the England international has "unfortunately had a little setback" and is not "in team training up until now."
Pressed on how long he could expect to be without his skipper, the German boss said: "I can't in this moment how long, hopefully not too long. Yes I know when we were here last time I said I hoped he would be in training this week, but he wasn't, next week looks like this too. So we have to wait for this."
That would mean Henderson misses not only the clash with Everton, as the Reds look to maintain an unbeaten at home to their inter-city rivals since 1999, but the mid-week visit of Bournemouth and a trip to Stoke City next Saturday.
But Klopp did at least say that Henderson's injury does not require a further prognosis, such as the complications that came with Dejan Lovren's knee injury last month, but rather time to recover.
He said that it is "all a question of time" before the 26-year-old is back in contention, adding: "There's nothing we could do. It's a situation, sometimes it's not a big issue but big enough."
Klopp declared that because it is Henderson, "you know there if there was a little chance that he could run, train" then "he would do it" but warned that Liverpool must be "really careful with him."
He insisted that the club's medical staff "cannot take a risk" on the No.14 and said, despite that, any absence is "always too long with all injuries" even though "perhaps it's not the best time" for Henderson to be absent.
Klopp, however, acknowledged that there is "nothing else to do" as he said: "It's [about] the treatment he gets of course [that decides his return date], the things you do of course, and then wait for the moment when he's back again."
Klopp facing derby midfield dilemma
With Henderson unavailable against Everton and Adam Lallana also injured on England duty, the dearth of options available to Klopp means Lucas Leiva is the most likely candidate to step in.
He could return to a defensive midfield role that he has rarely played in this season, with Emre Can moving further forward in the centre.
Philippe Coutinho dropping back into the midfield three is another option.
The Brazilian was highly effective as one of the two in the middle of the diamond midfield towards the end of the 2013-14 campaign, used during the club's 11-game winning streak that season. That would likely see Divock Origi taking up a position on the left of the front three.
Coutinho joined compatriot Roberto Firmino in training on Thursday after returning to Melwood earlier the same day following a 6,000-mile trip from South America to Merseyside after international duty.
Another set-up Klopp could favour is having West Derby-born prospect Trent Alexander-Arnold take up the No.6 role. The 18-year-old has previously done so for the club's Academy sides, although he is established as a right-back within the first-team.
Lucas is the favourite to earn a rare starting role, though, for his 17th appearance against Everton - only two of which have been defeats. The 30-year-old has made just six Premier League starts all season, all from central defence.