Liverpool midfielder Lucas Leiva has been ruled out for the remainder of the season with a knee injury.
Lucas was hurt in a seemingly innocuous challenge during Liverpool's 2-0 Carling Cup victory at Chelsea on Tuesday night. He played on for a couple of minutes before collapsing and was eventually carried off on a stretcher.
Manager Kenny Dalglish's worst fears were confirmed after series of scans revealed damage to the anterior cruciate ligament in Lucas' left knee; a real blow considering how well he had started the season.
"The Brazil international will undergo surgery and unfortunately be ruled out for the remainder of the current campaign,'' the club confirmed in statement.
Liverpool have recalled Jonjo Shelvey from his loan spell at Blackpool, where the 19-year-old scored six goals in ten Championship appearances, as cover for Lucas.
News of the 24-year-old's injury is a particularly crushing blow as he had forged a successful central midfield partnership with summer signing Charlie Adam, under-taking the defensive anchor role to allow the Scotland international to play a more expansive game.
Lucas reacted to the injury blow via twitter, saying: " I am really sad with the news because I was enjoying a lot on the pitch ... I am sure I will come back stronger and I will achieve everything that I dream with the LFC shirt. I am sure I'll never walk alone."
Dalglish still has plenty of options, with Jay Spearing likely to assume the role of defensive midfielder. Another summer signing Jordan Henderson could well move back inside, having spent most of his short Reds career struggling out on the right, and while Shelvey has been in great form for the Seasiders he is likely to be a back-up.
The ideal scenario for Dalglish would be a swift return for captain Steven Gerrard. Liverpool's captain has made just five appearances this season, having had a delayed start after recovering from a groin operation in April, and has not played since October 22 because of an ankle infection.
Lucas Leiva's Defensive Impact Among EPL Midfielders, 2011-12 Season
(Rank in brackets)
Tackle Attempts 75 (1st)
Successful Tackles 59 (1st)
Interceptions 34 (3rd)
Aerial Challenges Won 40 (6th)
Stats from Opta Sports