Nathaniel Clyne is set to spend up to another three months on the sidelines after undergoing an operation on his back injury.
The Liverpool defender has not played for the club since picking up the problem in pre-season and was ruled out for “a significant period of time” in September, with no return date specified.
Clyne resumed light training at Melwood a fortnight later as manager Jürgen Klopp hailed “a big step” forward in his recovery but the 26-year-old has since suffered a setback.
It is understood that Clyne underwent minor corrective surgery on his back on Monday and that he could now be unavailable to Klopp until as late as February.
The former Southampton right-back is expected to return in time for the run-in to Liverpool’s season, with youngsters Joe Gomez and Trent Alexander-Arnold having alternated at right-back in his absence.
Prior to the recent 4-1 victory at West Ham United, Klopp declined to put a timescale on Clyne’s return and confirmed that his rehabilitation had taken “a few steps back”.
The Liverpool manager said: “He was in a good way, running with high intensity but the muscle showed a little reaction. That was not an injury, and usually with a healthy and fit player you wouldn’t even think about it. In his case because it was a little sign again from the back, we took him out and it’s a few steps back again.”
Clyne will have to stake a late claim for a place in Gareth Southgate’s England squad for next summer’s World Cup in Russia when he returns to fitness.
The 26-year-old, often called up as a reserve to first-choice right-back Kyle Walker, has been replaced in the national team by Tottenham Hotspur's Kieran Trippier.
Liverpool declined to comment when approached by The Independent.
Join our commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies