Darwin Nunez was withdrawn from duty with Uruguay at the request of Liverpool, who reported an injury days before he was due to fly out.
Nunez was named in the 23-man Uruguay squad to play Japan and South Korea in friendlies later this month, and was set to take up a key role as the post-Luis Suarez era begins.
However, it emerged on Friday evening that the striker would instead remain on Merseyside, having been replaced by Club America’s Jonathan Rodriguez.
The Uruguayan FA confirmed this was due to an injury, with Liverpool then explaining that Nunez would stay at the AXA Training Centre to receive treatment.
No further information was given, but native newspapers El Observador and El Pais have both reported that it was an ankle issue.
Both publications describe the problem as a “cut to the ankle.”
El Pais report that the injury was sustained in the Champions League defeat to Real Madrid in midweek, which would explain his early substitution.
Nunez was brought off in the 57th minute at the Bernabeu, which led to fury from sections of the support as the score was still 0-0 with Liverpool needing three goals.
It remains to be seen how severe Nunez’s injury is, though the Reds are not in action again until April 1 when they visit Man City.
The likelihood is that, if it is only a cut to his ankle as reported, he will be fit and ready to start against the title challengers next month.
Jurgen Klopp will be desperate to include him, having described the run of three games in nine days against Man City, Chelsea and Arsenal as a “proper football week” which could “define” the season.
Speaking after the 1-0 loss to Real, Klopp claimed that Nunez was substituted because he was “not on the absolute top level.”
“Darwin looked like he was not on the absolute top level, and then we need to defend that side as well because conceding a goal is not helpful in that situation,” he told reporters.
“Yeah, we can change there, that’s why we did it. We wanted to mix it a little bit, that’s true.”
It transpires, though, that Nunez instead required treatment for an issue that was serious enough to rule him out for Uruguay.