Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is not expected to feature for Liverpool for the majority of 2018/19, with Jurgen Klopp stressing the focus is on recovery.
The 24-year-old suffered a knee ligament injury following a challenge on Aleksandar Kolarov in the Reds’ 5-2 victory over Roma in the Champions League semi-finals in April.
Oxlade-Chamberlain subsequently underwent surgery which ruled out for the remainder of the campaign and the England squad for the World Cup.
He was reported to have been pencilled in for a comeback towards the end of 2018, but speaking to LiverpoolFC.com, Klopp has revealed the extent of his injury.
“It feels like now is an appropriate time to tell people that for Ox this coming season will be about focusing on recovery and rehab,” he said.
The manager continued to explain that this is not a setback in Oxlade-Chamberlain’s recovery, but rather the original timeframe set:
“We have known this from pretty much the day after he got the injury and after the successful surgery, we were sure of it.
“I hope everyone treats this information responsibly.
“There has been no change, no setback—it’s exactly on the schedule we expected and planned for. The new information is that we’re now giving more detail publicly.
“It is typical of Ox that he didn’t want the news to overshadow the end of the season and, to be quite honest, we thought we could wait and tell people at an appropriate time.
“His surgery—which he had on the day of our second leg in Roma—has been completely successful and his recovery has started superbly well.
“But the truth of the matter is that we are preparing this season knowing he will not be with us on the pitch for competitive matches for the majority of it.
“If we do see him back this season it will be a bonus.”
This is a cruel blow for Oxlade-Chamberlain, who had enjoyed an excellent start to life on Merseyside following his £35 million move from Arsenal last summer.
Stationed his preferred midfield role, the Englishman scored five goals and assisted a further eight in 42 appearances, providing Klopp with added thrust moving forward.
While Klopp added that “we will wait for him,” his absence underlines the importance of Liverpool signing another attacking midfielder this summer.
While the Reds have already added both Fabinho and Naby Keita to Klopp’s squad, the pursuit of Lyon captain Nabil Fekir signalled the manager’s desire to overhaul his midfield entirely.
It has been claimed that a revived deal for Fekir is in the works, though this remains dubious at this stage.