Liverpool winger Luis Diaz has suffered a setback in his recovery from a knee injury and will leave the club’s winter training camp in Dubai.
The Colombian has not played for Liverpool since October 9 and was hoping to make his comeback in this month’s Carabao Cup tie against Manchester City.
But that is now out of the question and it is unlikely he will feature in any of the fixtures during the festive period.
Liverpool were buoyed by the sight of Diaz rejoining training with the rest of the non-World Cup contingent earlier this week, Jurgen Klopp’s squad among a host of other Premier League clubs in warm weather training in the Middle East.
Diaz’s training was being tailored before being eased into full training, but he complained of discomfort as the same knee issue resurfaced.
Liverpool – who recently appointed new club doctor Jonathan Power after a four month wait to fill the vacancy – were sure Diaz would not require surgery when his injury was first diagnosed two months ago, hoping a period rest and recuperation would be sufficient.
Diaz's imminent return to Merseyside for further assessments is a worry given the intense schedule once the domestic and European season resumes. The 25-year-old has been outstanding since his move from Porto in January, and was a standout performer this season before being injured.
Klopp anticipated Liverpool would be restarting with several of those absent before the break back in the squad.
But he is also expecting to be without Diogo Jota for a while longer, the Portuguese continuing his rehabilitation from a thigh injury which ruled him out of the World Cup.
Midfielder Naby Keita is back with the squad, while the early exit of Uruguay will at least give Darwin Nunez the chance to fully integrate back into the Liverpool party before the Premier League restarts on Boxing Day.
Liverpool have arranged a couple of warm-up games in the United Arab Emirates, starting with a fixture against Lyon on Sunday.