Liverpool right-back Glen Johnson will be out for an “indefinite” period with a number of niggling injuries, manager Brendan Rodgers has said.
Johnson has been suffering with ankle trouble and several other injury problems, and will sit out Saturday’s FA Cup fourth-round trip to Championship side Bournemouth.
Rodgers said: “Glen’s played a lot of the season, having been injured, and has really put himself out for the team but, unfortunately, he’s struggling with a number of injuries. It’ll be indefinite, really, in terms of the length of time he’ll be out.
“We just need to assess that and see how quickly he comes through.”
Rodgers will be without a number of key players for the trip to England’s south coast, including midfielder Lucas Leiva, who is facing two months out with medial knee ligament damage.
The manager suggested in a news conference on Thursday that Lucas would be out for “a few months,” although later modified that comment by adding that he believed the midfielder would be back in plenty of time to secure a place in Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari’s World Cup squad.
“I’m disappointed for Lucas, because he’s been very important for our squad this season,” Rodgers said. “It was something that looked innocuous, and it’s put him out for a few months.
“He had been in good form this season, and had worked his way back into the Brazil squad. Knowing what he’s like, I hope he’ll be back sooner rather than later, and he’ll do everything in his power to be back.
“But in the meantime, it leaves us short of a really good player. I’m sure Luiz Felipe Scolari will have a really good idea who he’s going to bring anyway, and I don’t think this injury for Lucas will deter that.
“They’ve got their last squad get-together in March. He was in the last one, and I’m sure he impressed.
“They’ve got a big pool to pick from, but I’m sure the manager has a big idea of who he’d want to pick already.”
Left-back Jose Enrique remains out as he recovers from knee surgery, but fellow defender Jon Flanagan is back in training after recovering from a hamstring injury suffered just before Christmas.
Rodgers, though, indicated that he will be forced into changes against Bournemouth.
He said: “We don’t have a lot of choice at the moment. We’ve got 15 players who’ve been training. We’ll obviously call on some other younger players to come into the squad.
“The FA Cup is a competition we want to do well in. The history of the club dictates that it’s about winning trophies, and this game is important for us.”
Rodgers said that Brad Jones will replace Simon Mignolet in goal for the game on Saturday, as he did against Oldham in the last round of the FA Cup. Mignolet has been less than convincing in recent weeks, but the manager has backed him to bounce back.
He said: “Every keeper will make mistakes, just as every player will make mistakes. The problem is that when it happens to a keeper, it gets highlighted even more.
“I’ve never lost faith in him at all. He has a first-class mentality and he’s going to improve. All in all, we’ve been really happy with Simon. I’ve got no worries with him.
“We’ve spoken, but it’s really just to reinforce that he is a very good keeper, and one of the top keepers at this level. He might have made some errors, but he’s also saved us points this year, and that’s something I could never forget.”