The euphoria of Thursday's extraordinary Europa League quarter-final win against Borussia Dortmund was soon met with the somewhat sobering news that Liverpool would be without Emre Can for the remainder of the season.
The midfielder sprained an ankle right before Mamadou Sakho scored Liverpool's third goal and faces 4-6 weeks on the sidelines. There is the possibility that if Liverpool do make it to the Europa League final that the German midfielder will have recovered enough to take part, but his domestic campaign looks all but over for this season.
Can has become an integral part of Jurgen Klopp's side since he took over as Liverpool manager. His high energy and constant running makes him a perfect fit for the highly intensive pressing style that Klopp wants to employ. His passing and ability on the ball have come plenty under Klopp exhibited by his superb one touch deconstruction of the Dortmund midfield for Origi's goal on Thursday.
So what are Liverpool's options in midfield, where Liverpool are already without their captain Jordan Henderson, for the rest of this season?
The most obvious solution is to slot Allen into Can's place. While not as physically imposing as Can, Allen has been a valuable contributor since the turn of the year his performances in both League Cup semi-finals against Stoke stand out as perhaps his best game in a Liverpool jersey to date. Allen helped to turn the tide on Thursday when he replaced Adam Lallana after an hour. Allen is rarely a figure of inspiration, but he is safe with possession and provides a good energy in the middle he's likely to slot straight in.
The veteran Brazilian had spent a lengthy period on the sidelines with injury after a fantastic performance at centre back in the League Cup final defeat to Manchester City. Lucas' problem this season has been a continuing deterioration of his physical ability, with opponents often exposing his lack of pace. He does still have an excellent footballing brain however, and will almost certainly be called upon throughout the run in. However it's unlikely Klopp will thrust him straight into the role Emre Can filled without the support of someone like James Milner to make up the ground for him.
Unfortunately Stewart wasn't registered in the Europa League squad earlier in the campaign and such can't be used in the Europa League semi-finals against Villarreal. However the youngster has impressed in his few appearances in the F.A Cup and Premier League to date and is likely to receive plenty of game time in the run in as Klopp looks to keep his squad fresh for the European semi-finals. Perhaps being omitted from the Europa League squad may prove to be a blessing for Stewart: as impressive as he has been thus far, the 22 year old remains vastly inexperienced and is likely best served developing in the last few Premier League games.
Change the shape
There are a couple of options to replace Emre Can with something other than a like for like swap. The one that immediately springs to mind is to now play both Daniel Sturridge and Divock Origi up front together. The pair are both on scintillating form at the moment, and when used together in a two man strike force, they have previously devastated Southampton in the League Cup.
When Klopp brought Sturridge into the fold to play alongside Origi on Thursday night, he employed a midfield diamond with Can at the base. James Milner may be best suited to taking one of the two wide spots in the diamond, but Adam Lallana, Phillipe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino all equally able to do this, Milner may find himself pushed into the base. Joe Allen likewise could come into the base if Klopp would rather take one of the attacking midfielders out to accommodate the extra striker.