Steven Gerrard’s latest injury setback has thrown Liverpool’s preparations for the new season into disarray.
Gerrard – who went under the knife in March to correct a groin problem – is now undergoing a course of antibiotics because of an infection related to that injury.
He’s set to stay in hospital for several days as a precautionary measure, but the news will be a bitter blow to Kenny Dalglish as he looks to mount a serious challenge for the Premier League title.
The skipper is still the most influential player amongst the Liverpool ranks and, with so many new players coming in over the summer, the stability he provides would have been vital in the first weeks.
Dalglish will be without Gerrard until mid-September at the earliest and must now look to juggle his not inconsiderable midfield options.
New boys Steward Downing, Charlie Adam and Jordan Henderson will be keen to make the most of his absence and cement a place in the Liverpool starting XI.
However, none of them have the class of a fully fit Gerrard and, with a tough away game at Arsenal awaiting them in their second league game, they will have to settle quickly.
Their opening match against Sunderland should not prove problematic for the Reds though – whoever they play in the middle.
The Black Cats have even more new faces than Liverpool, haven’t beaten the Reds since in their previous ten outings and haven’t won at Anfield since 1983.
Despite Gerrard’s absence, Liverpool are still well worth backing at 1/3 to win that clash.