Liverpool centre back Virgil van Dijk has damaged knee ligaments and is set to undergo surgery which could keep him out for the rest of the season after he was injured by a rash challenge in Saturday's Merseyside derby draw against Everton.
The Dutchman widely regarded as the world's best defender faces a lengthy spell on the sidelines after being substituted early in the game when Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford made a dismal challenge in the box that left Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp fuming.
"Liverpool can confirm Virgil van Dijk will undergo surgery on the knee injury he sustained during Saturday's 2-2 draw at Everton," the club said in a statement.
"The centre back damaged knee ligaments following an incident involving Blues goalkeeper Jordan Pickford after six minutes at Goodison Park."
Though the club did not specify a timescale for the 29-year-old defender's return, cruciate ligament injuries normally take months to recover from, potentially ruling Van Dijk out for the rest of the season while also dealing a blow to the Netherlands ahead of the Euros next year.
Liverpool are second in the standings after five games, three points behind Everton.
An ever-present leader in the Reds' rearguard, the club-record signing has played 50 games in each of the last two seasons for Liverpool, including every league match.
Liverpool are also short in central defence with Joe Gomez and Joel Matip the only fit senior centre backs available ahead of a congested schedule where they play six times in 18 days before next month's international break.
Liverpool begin their Champions League group stage campaign at Ajax Amsterdam on Wednesday and Van Dijk's absence leaves another hole at the back with goalkeeper Alisson Becker also sidelined with injury.
Australian Associated Press