Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder believes the injuries to his key players is a bigger blow than Virgil van Dijk’s absence for Liverpool.
The Premier League champions are set to be without their talismanic central defender for a lengthy period after he damaged an anterior cruciate ligament during the Merseyside derby.
Van Dijk requires knee surgery after being clattered by Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford last weekend.
However, ahead of the Blades’ trip to Anfield to play Liverpool on Saturday, Wilder has injury issues of his own, with Jack O’Connell (knee) likely to be out for the rest of the season and Lys Mousset (toe) and John Fleck (back) several weeks away from making a return.
Wilder revealed when he expects striker Mousset to step up his recovery, before putting the two club’s injury problems into perspective.
“We are hoping to get Lys back on the grass, that’s about six to eight weeks away, while John Fleck will hopefully be back next month,” said the Blades boss.
“There’s three big players missing for us, with Jack O’Connell probably out for the season too, but it’s all relative. There are always players that are going to be out injured, and you just have to get on with it and cope as best you can.
“But us losing O’Connell, Fleck and Mousett are huge blows for us and I would say bigger blows to us (than) what Van Dijk is to Liverpool, in my opinion, relatively, as we look as a football club.
“We all have to go through these situations but there are still some world class players (at Liverpool) and though they have lost one world class player for a lengthy period of time, they have other world class players to come in.
“We all want our best and most consistent team out there as injuries affects consistency and rhythm, it certainly has for us, and it doesn’t make the task any easier. Their performance levels didn’t dip last night (in the Champions League against Ajax) and I’m not expecting it to on Saturday.”
Record signing Rhian Brewster could make his full debut for Sheffield United against his former club.
The 20-year-old striker, who joined the Blades earlier this month in a deal that could be worth up to £23million, made his first appearance for Wilder’s side as a second-half substitute in the draw with Fulham.
Max Lowe had to be withdrawn with a head injury in that game and the Blades are awaiting a doctor’s report before deciding if he travels to Merseyside.