PREMIER LEAGUE

Liverpool: Dejan Lovren could be out until the New Year

Liverpool will be without central defender Dejan Lovren for most of December after the player suffered a new muscular injury.

Lovren facing time out with 'more serious' muscle injury

Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp confirmed this afternoon that Dejan Lovren has suffered a more serious musclular injury than his previous one and added that he cannot put a time frame on when the centre-back will be available to return. Lovren went off 53 minutes into Liverpool's 2-0 Champions League win away to Salzburg on Tuesday. He had been taken off "as a precaution" after feeling twinges to his hamstring in the weekend's 3-0 win at Bournemouth.

The defender will miss Saturday's game against Watford at Anfield and Klopp admits he is unsure when the 30-year-old will be able to return. "He is out, muscle this time – more serious than last time," Klopp told reporters on Friday. "We don't have a time frame."

Klopp with three available centre-backs

With Joel Matip also sidelined with a knee injury, Klopp has only Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez as his senior centre-back options amid a gruelling run of fixtures. After the Watford match, a team largely comprising youth and fringe players will face Aston Villa in the EFL Carabao Cup on Tuesday, with the rest of the squad in action in a Club World Cup semi-final 24 hours later. With league games against second-place Leicester City and Wolves to come before the turn of the year, Klopp accepts his lack of defenders is a worry.

Chance for Van den Berg

"It's a concern," he said. "It's not the first time we are in a situation like this: last year, one game Fabinho played at centre-half. Unfortunately, he is out as well. It's not too cool. At the moment we have two – we should take care of them, pack them in cotton wool and ask them what they want to do in training. Apart from that, we have to be creative; we have the kids, of course, with Ki-Jana [Hoever] and Sepp [van den Berg]. We have defensive-minded midfielders, there are different systems where you can use different kind of defenders as well. That's how it is. At the moment, I have a lot of ideas, but I hope for most of them I never have to use them, to be honest."

Liverpool

Klopp, who signed a new contract that runs until 2024 on Friday, will be hoping for a 16th win from 17 league games this season against Watford, as Liverpool aim to maintain their eight-point lead at the top.