Nathaniel Clyne‘s long-running and somewhat mysterious back injury has taken another turn, with the Liverpool right-back undergoing surgery on Monday, ruling him out until 2018.
The 26-year-old was first suffering with a back problem at the end of last season, in May. He featured for 45 minutes in the opening pre-season game at Tranmere in July, but has been missing ever since.
Details of Clyne’s injury did not emerge until he was omitted from the Reds’ Champions League squad in late August – a move that meant Liverpool were relying on Joe Gomez and Trent Alexander-Arnold for half of the season, with the two youngsters both being inexperienced as the season began.
Speaking 10 days ago, Jurgen Klopp said: “[It’s] not that good. He was on a good way, then a little setback. We are on it, that’s how back problems are.
“The back is a really weak part of your body. We have to make him 100 percent ready. It’s not the best thing, especially not for him.
“We showed him to specialists all over the world. It’s not a big problem, it just needs time. That’s all.”
Now, it has emerged that Clyne “underwent minor corrective surgery on his back on Monday and that he will now be unavailable to Klopp until February at the latest.”
Clyne’s injury has meant Gomez, who hadn’t played regular first-team football in almost two years, has been first-choice right-back and fourth-choice centre-back in Klopp’s depleted defensive options.
Liverpool have 10 games in 35 days coming up over a busy winter schedule – injury and suspensions at centre-back could mean Gomez is needed in the centre of defence and leave Liverpool extremely short when games are played so close together.
Clyne was Klopp’s most-used player prior to injury, featuring in 37 of the Reds’ 38 league games last season, with little backup for the England international.
Whether this latest setback for Clyne will see the manager turn to the transfer market in January, remains to be seen.