Initially expected to be sidelined for “a couple of months” with a thigh injury, Adam Lallana‘s likely return date has reportedly been pushed back to December.
UPDATE: Paul Joyce has since stated: “I was wrong in an article saying Adam Lallana may only be back fit in December. Liverpool still expect November.”
The midfielder has been absent since the friendly against Atletico Madrid in pre-season, in a major blow to Jurgen Klopp‘s side.
Revealing the extent of Lallana’s injury at the start of August, Klopp said “I think we can pretty much rule him out of August and September.”
But now it seems that Lallana is likely to be missing for a longer period, as the Times‘ Paul Joyce reported on Saturday evening.
Joyce writes that “Lallana is likely to be out until December,” implying a four-month layoff for the England international, who made 35 appearances in all competitions last season.
If the midfielder is sidelined until the closing weeks of 2017, he can be expected to miss at least 20 more games, including the majority of the group stage of either the Champions League or the Europa League.
He would also be unavailable for the third and fourth rounds of the League Cup, and clashes with Arsenal, Man City, Man United, Tottenham and Chelsea in the Premier League.
Interestingly, when news of Lallana’s injury was first leaked, it was claimed he would face four months out, but the media were then briefed that it would be the shorter timeframe. Did the club attempt to downplay it on purpose to avoid headlines of a key player being missing for half a season and therefore a replacement being required?
Lallana enjoyed one of his most productive seasons in the English top flight in 2016/17, scoring eight goals and assisting a further seven.
It was his key role in leading Liverpool’s high-intensity pressing game that was so crucial, however, with Lallana operating with energy and tenacity in midfield.
His extended absence serves as another reason why Klopp will be looking to strengthen his ranks before the end of the summer transfer window.
In Saturday’s 1-0 win at home to Crystal Palace, James Milner was deployed in the most advanced midfield role, and the vice-captain was certainly one of the Reds’ better performers.
But fielding Milner alongside Georginio Wijnaldum and Jordan Henderson resulted in an abject lack of dynamism in the middle of the park.
With Philippe Coutinho also sidelined with an alleged back injury, Klopp’s other options at this stage are Emre Can and youngsters Marko Grujic, Ovie Ejaria and Ben Woodburn.
A move for RB Leipzig’s Naby Keita has failed this summer, while Joyce has downplayed suggestions the Reds are pursuing a deal for OGC Nice’s Jean Michael Seri.
With less than two weeks to go before the transfer deadline, the need for reinforcements is clear.