Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish admits the club will be tested by the absence of the injured midfielder Lucas Leiva.
The Brazil international's season has been curtailed by a cruciate knee ligament injury sustained in the Carling Cup quarter-final victory over Chelsea in midweek.
Lucas has been one of the Reds' best players over the past two seasons and in the last fortnight, in particular, the 24-year-old has shown his worth with impressive performances in both the Premier League and Carling Cup wins against Chelsea and also in the 1-1 draw at home to Manchester City.
It leaves a hole in central midfield that will take some filling. "It is a huge disappointment for everybody but more importantly for Lucas," said Dalglish. "He's had the scan and we will assess it and decide where is the best place he has to go and where he is more comfortable and they'll do what they have to do.
"We have a great deal of sympathy for Lucas. He's been playing well for us but it is part and parcel of football I suppose. We're not the only club who has an injury which means we have to fulfil our obligations by using the squad. It is at times like this you are tested but we have been happy with the squad and the results we have had reflect that."
Dalglish's immediate problem is to replace Lucas in midfield for Monday's match at Fulham. He had forged a successful central midfield partnership with summer signing Charlie Adam. The two were paired together for 12 of Liverpool's 13 Premier League matches this season – only broken by a one-match suspension for Lucas.
Steven Gerrard filled a more orthodox midfield role on that occasion, a 1-1 draw with Norwich on 22 October. Unfortunately, it was the last time Liverpool saw their captain on the field as an ankle infection has sidelined him since and he will not be ready to return at Fulham.
Jay Spearing or Jordan Henderson could fill the central midfield role and Dalglish has also recalled Jonjo Shelvey from a loan at Blackpool.Reuse content