Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard looks certain to miss the start of the Premier League campaign and may not be seen in a Liverpool shirt until the middle of September.
The 31-year-old is recovering slowly from a second groin injury and while there were hopes that he would be ready for the start of the season, Kenny Dalglish is preparing for life without him.
The signings of Jordan Henderson, Charlie Adam and Stuart Downing suggest Dalglish is worried about the fitness of his star midfielder who featured in just 24 of Liverpool’s games last season.
It may be sacrilegious to suggest Gerrard is past his peak but had it not been for a cameo hat-trick against Napoli in the Europa League last season, Gerrard’s goal tally would have been just seven.
Compare this with 12 goals for Liverpool in 49 appearances in the 2009/10 season and 24 goals in 45 appearances in the 2008/09 season and you can see the Liverpool captain is in decline.
Gerrard featured in 12 of Liverpool’s 26 wins last season which suggests the captain’s role in the team may not be irreplaceable, but it’s his influence on the fans and more importantly his teammates that Liverpool will miss.
Liverpool are 10/1 to win the title and admissions from Sir Alex Ferguson and Wayne Rooney suggest they are one of the dark horses this season.
Should Dalglish get Adam, Henderson and Downing to settle quickly then Liverpool look certain to challenge.
However if the trio fail to adapt to the pressure that comes with being a Liverpool player quickly, then Gerrard’s absence will leave Liverpool on the back foot at the start of the season.