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IT may not have been unexpected but it didn't make the confirmation any easier to stomach. Liverpool's worst fears were realised yesterday with the news that Steven Gerrard won't play again this season.
The skipper's hopes of a comeback after a groin operation had been dashed a week earlier when he broke down in training.
And as medical experts try to establish whether further surgery is required, boss Kenny Dalglish must continue to do without the inspirational midfielder who hasn't played since last month's victory over Manchester- United.
It's been a tough week at Melwood as Dalglish comes to terms with an injury crisis which threatens to derail Liverpool's late push for a Europa League spot.
The disappointment of last Saturday's 2-1 defeat at West Brom was compounded by the loss of Glen Johnson and Daniel Agger.
Johnson should return at the end of the month but Agger's campaign is over due to tendon damage is his knee.
With Martin Kelly having suffered a setback as he recovers from a torn hamstring, it leaves Dalglish without four players who would walk into his best XI.
In a squad not blessed with great depth, it's a major problem but the manager isn't in the mood to start looking for excuses.
Liverpool must regroup for Monday night's clash with third placed Manchester City at Anfield and Dalglish wants those who are handed a shirt to grab their opportunity to shine.
“It's frustrating for everybody,” he said. “There is nobody that gets any enjoyment out of players being unfit.
“But we know where we stand and we have to get on with it.
“It may be stretching the resolve of the players a little bit, but we've got to go right to the limit and make sure we're not feeling sorry for ourselves because we've lost three players through injury.
“We've just got to accept that's the position we're in. It's up to us to make the best of it.
“Without being disrespectful to the players who are injured, the most important ones are the ones who are fit because they're the ones who can be chosen.”
Despite the selection headache, Dalglish could still muster a smile. Asked about the business deal struck between Liverpool owners Fenway Sports Group and NBA basketball star LeBrun James, he said: “I don't think he'll be available for Monday, will he?”
With the Miami Heat small forward unable to fill in at left-back, Dalglish must decide whether Fabio Aurelio is sufficiently fit to play.
The injury-prone Brazilian returned to full training this week but hasn't played for a month.
If Aurelio doesn't make it then Dalglish will choose between Danny Wilson, who came off the bench at The Hawthorns last Saturday, and Academy youngster Jack Robinson.
Jamie Carragher is expected to continue at right-back but Dalglish could turn to highly-rated 18-year-old John Flanagan, who has impressed for the under-18s and reserves.
That would allow the manager to return Carragher to his more favoured central role alongside Martin Skrtel.
Champions League hopefuls City will arrive on a high after thrashing Sunderland 5-0 last weekend. Roberto Mancini's men, who were comfortable 3-0 winners when the sides met back in August, are looking to complete their first league double over Liverpool since 1936/37.
However, they haven't won away since Boxing Day and with City's FA Cup semi-final showdown with Manchester United at Wembley coming just five days after their visit to Anfield, Dalglish is hoping their minds will be elsewhere.
“We're playing a really good side in Man City who were convincing winners at Eastlands in the second game of the season so we know what we're up against,” he said.
“We don't know what team they'll put out, we don't know if they'll be focused on the semi-final or not.
“I'm sure they place equal importance on their position in the league but when you see a trophy at the end of it sometimes your concentration wanes a wee bit. We hope that will be the case.
“I'm sure they'll have half an eye on the Cup tie because it's a massive game for them and a chance for them to get a bit of silverware.
“And their task in that game is a bit easier, I'd assume, because Wayne (Rooney) isn't available.
“I'm sure the Champions League spot is important for them but I think a trophy would be the most important thing for them. If they could get that I'm sure they'd see this season as successful.”
Liverpool have enjoyed memorable wins over Chelsea and Manchester United since Dalglish took over in January.
The toughest tests have brought out the best in his players, while points have been dropped in easier assignments against the likes of West Ham and West Brom.
“It just shows you the level we can get to by beating two of the top sides,” Dalglish said.
“The other games, it's people who are fighting for their lives and they've got a different pressure on them to the ones at the top of the table.
“Whether it's a coincidence or something that's lacking in us, it's something we've got to find out.”