Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has ruled the injured Daniel Sturridge out of contention against both West Ham United and Middlesbrough.
Sturridge is currently suffering from calf injury, and while it was initially believed to be minor, this has not proved to be the case.
The 27-year-old sat out of November’s 2-0 victory at home to Sunderland, and is yet to return to first-team training, missing the Reds’ mid-season break in Barcelona to undergo treatment.
Speaking to reporters ahead of Liverpool’s home clash with West Ham, Klopp said “you cannot force things like this,” casting doubt over Sturridge’s availability.
“No real idea, until now he didn’t train. It was not 100 percent clear yesterday,” he explained.
“[We can do] nothing. Wait. That’s my job. He’s not happy.
“It’s the life of a footballer. You cannot force things like this, ever.
“You have to wait until they’re back, then sometimes you have to wait a little longer.
“It’s not perfect with our situation with Phil [Coutinho] and Danny [Ings].”
Sturridge joins Coutinho (ankle) and Ings (knee) on the treatment table, and like his fellow attacking duo, looks to be a potentially long-term issue for Klopp.
When pressed about a possible time frame for Sturridge’s return, the German refused to commit, insisting that doing so would not prove helpful.
However, he did suggest Liverpool’s trip across Stanley Park to take on Everton on December 19 could be a sensible date to earmark.
“Hopefully, he will be back as quickly as possible—but I have no idea in this moment,” he continue.
“We can’t think about him for West Ham or Middlesbrough.
“What’s the game after Middlesbrough? Everton. It would be nice [if Sturridge was back then], but I have no idea.”
Sturridge is yet to start a game for Liverpool in the league in the month of December, highlighting the regular injury problems he has faced during his four years with the club.
The vague nature of Klopp’s response suggests this festive malaise could continue, too.
Sturridge has already dropped down the pecking order under Klopp, and with the 49-year-old unable to call upon his No. 15 in the absence of Coutinho, Divock Origi is only set to benefit further.