Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers has confirmed that defender Jon Flanagan will be out for up to nine months after undergoing knee surgery.
The full-back made 23 Premier League appearances in an impressive 2013-14 season, but has not featured this term.
Despite nearing a comeback in March, Flanagan is set for another lengthy spell on the sidelines.
“He has fought back having been out for a period of time but the issue that he’s had, if he didn’t have the operation it was only going to delay it,” Rodgers said.
“Jon is a really strong character. He trained for a few days last week and looked absolutely brilliant.
“I was asking the medics if it was something that he definitely needed. But for him and his career, he definitely needed the operation and now he’s had that and it will be over the course of the next six to nine months now.
“Hopefully we can get him back fit and stronger than ever because he’s a really, really important player for us.
“He is the one player that I think has never been mentioned throughout the season, in terms of people looking at goals, people that have left the club and people that are here and have been unfit.
“But he has been a huge miss for us because in the second half of last season when he got into the team, he was arguably the best full-back in the league.”
Liverpool boss Rodgers also revealed on Friday that the club are consulting specialists in the United States over Daniel Sturridge’s injury problems.
Rodgers also confirmed that midfielder Lucas Leiva (thigh) and Alberto Moreno (knock) will return for Saturday’s clash against QPR at Anfield having missed the midweek 1-0 defeat at Hull City.
However, striker Mario Balotelli, who hurt his foot at the KC Stadium, and defender Mamadou Sakho (hamstring) are unavailable.
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