Joel Matip is set to sit out the rest of Liverpool’s 2019-20 campaign with a foot injury.
The 28-year-old defender picked up an untimely problem in a 0-0 Merseyside derby draw with Everton on June 21.
He lasted 73 minutes in that contest before being forced from the field, with Dejan Lovren introduced in his place.
Fit-again Joe Gomez has since stepped back into a centre-half berth alongside Virgil van Dijk.
That partnership may have to be favoured by Jurgen Klopp through to the end of the season – although he now has the option to tinker with his plans on the back of the Reds wrapping up a Premier League title triumph.
With another piece of silverware safely secured, Liverpool have no need to take any unnecessary risks from this point.
That means that Matip will be given as long as he needs in which to make a full recovery from his ailment.
The former Cameroon international has told the club’s official website: “This season I will be not back on the pitch but for next season, I hope I’m going to be quite early a direct help for the team.”
Liverpool still have seven Premier League games left to take in this season – with the first of those set to see them take on Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium on Thursday.
Having dethroned the Blues as kings of English football, Klopp’s men will be given a guard of honour by Pep Guardiola’s side.
Matip will not get the chance to savour that recognition, but will be an interested spectator for the remainder of the campaign.
There are still notable records in the Reds’ sights as they play their way towards the finishing post, with it possible for them to eclipse City’s record haul of 100 points from 2017-18.
Matip would have been looking to contribute to that quest, having returned to favour at the heart of the Reds’ back four.
He must now watch on from afar as Van Dijk and Gomez seek to build on the promise in their partnership.
There will, however, be a quick turnaround for 2020-21, following the three-month hiatus from competitive action caused by the coronavirus pandemic, so Matip will be hoping to force his way back into Klopp’s thoughts as quickly as possible.