Worse than hoped but better than feared sums up news that Martin Skrtel will miss six weeks with a hamstring tear suffered against Watford over the weekend. Early reports had suggested the Slovak centre half might be back before the new year. That was the hope.
On the other side of the ledger were reports late last night and early today that the injury could be serious enough Skrtel would miss around three months. That was the fear, and in that light at least, news that a slight tear to the hamstring will keep him out for six weeks is relatively good news.
It’s hardly great, though. Not when Dejan Lovren is expected out until the new year himself, and not when Joe Gomez is out for the season with a ruptured ACL or when Mamadou Sakho has a worrying injury record or when veteran Kolo Toure has struggled when asked to go 90 minutes this year.
It likely also won’t change rumours the club will seek to reinforce the defence when the transfer window opens—at least if they can get a deal done quickly. The most obvious option would be convincing Schalke to deal Joel Matip for a nominal fee rather than losing him on a free in the summer.
Reports from journalists with ties to the club claim Liverpool are at work on a pre-contract agreement that would see Matip arrive at the end of the season. So far, Schalke have made clear they do not plan to sell Matip even if he signs a pre-contract, but their stance could change once his departure becomes a reality.
In the meantime, Liverpool will hope to get through the next few weeks without further injuries at the back, and while Sakho will start on Saturday, who starts next to him is uncertain, with Toure as well as midfielders Emre Can and Lucas Leiva—both of whom have filled in at the back—options.