Liverpool have been dealt an injury blow with Joe Gomez set to undergo surgery on his fractured leg.
The England international has been sidelined since early December after suffering the injury in a tackle with Burnley’s Ben Mee. The Reds had initially expected Gomez to miss around six weeks of action, but the 21-year-old’s recovery has been more complicated than first thought.
And he is now set to have an operation which Liverpool hope will speed along his rehabilitation. The operation will take place in London later on Monday, and has been described by club sources as "routine, but necessary."
Liverpool have not put a timescale on a potential return to action, or even training, with the issue dependent on how Gomez reacts to the surgery. Goal, though, understands the former Charlton man is expecting to feature again before the end of the season.
“It’s a blow for the boy and for us because, prior to the injury, he was in such fantastic shape," Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp told the club’s official website.
“But he is too valuable to take any risk with, both for our present and future, so we get this procedure done and he comes back when he’s ready.
“His attitude during this rehab has been outstanding but it just hasn’t healed as we’d have liked so we will make this intervention and then he will come back.”
Gomez added: “Obviously being out for longer than we’d first hoped for is hard to swallow but it’s part and parcel of the industry. It was an injury caused by an impact, like nearly all the injuries I’ve had in my career, so I know it’s just a case of when it’s fully healed I’m good to go again.
“The hardest part is not being able to help the team and contribute on the pitch at the moment, so it’s important I come back ready to go and this procedure will help with that. My only focus is getting back for Liverpool as soon as possible and I can promise the supporters I’ll be working hard every day to do that.”
The news comes as a blow to Klopp, for whom Gomez has established himself as first choice at centre-back this season. Joel Matip and Dejan Lovren, fit again after a hamstring injury, will contest the spot alongside Virgil van Dijk, though the Dutchman himself is suspended for the first leg of the Champions League last-16 clash with Bayern Munich.
Trent Alexander-Arnold is due back in training this week after a knee ligament injury, meaning James Milner is likely to deputise at right-back against West Ham on Monday evening.
Victory for the Reds at the London Stadium would take them five points clear of Manchester City at the top of the Premier League table.