Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard has been ruled out of the club's pre-season tour to Asia in a bid to ensure he is fit for the start of the new Premier League season.
Gerrard, 31, missed the end of the 2010-11 campaign after undergoing surgery on his groin in March and will continue his rehabilitation at the Reds' Melwood training ground.
The Liverpool squad fly out to the Far East this Sunday for matches in China and Malaysia, and Kenny Dalglish will be hoping that his captain will be closer to full fitness by the time they return eight days later.
"Steven and the medical team have done fantastically well so far and they are in the final stages of getting him back to full training," Dalglish said.
"I'm sure there will be supporters disappointed that Steven is unable to be with us in Asia, but I'm sure the same people will appreciate the importance of Steven giving himself the best possible opportunity of being fit to play against Sunderland on the opening day of the new campaign.
"Steven continuing his rehabilitation programme at Melwood is in everybody's long-term interests."
Gerrard apologiesd to those Liverpool fans in Asia who had been hoping to watch the skipper in action, but insisted that staying in England is necessary for him to be in the best shape possible to lead the Reds out for their Premier League opener againnst Sunderland on August 13.
"I'd really been looking forward to travelling out to China, Malaysia and Singapore and meeting first hand as many of our fans as possible, and I'm really sorry that I won't now be able to do that," Gerrard said.
"All of us at the club realise the incredible support we enjoy in these countries and how much it means to our supporters there.
"But after sitting down and talking with the medical experts and technical staff, it's been decided that the best course of action is for me to continue my rehabilitation programme at Melwood.
"It's disappointing I won't be with them, but I'm sure the lads who go out there will put a great show on for our fans."