Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers is concerned his side do not have the depth to deal with the Daniel Sturridge’s lay-off after a shock 3-1 defeat at the hands of Hull.
Rodgers confirmed that England striker Sturridge is facing up to two months on the sidelines following an ankle injury in training and his team-mates appeared to feel the loss sharply as they struggled to test the Tigers.
Steven Gerrard found the net with a fine free-kick to cancel out Jake Livermore’s opener, but a second-half strike from David Meyler and a Martin Skrtel own-goal did not flatter Hull, who were clearly superior after the interval.
As well as Sturridge’s absence, Phillipe Coutinho was restricted to 25 minutes from the bench having suffered with an ankle problem of his own all week.
The stand-ins, Victor Moses and Raheem Sterling, put in unconvincing performances and left Rodgers worried about the strength of his squad coming into the busy December period.
“The quality of our squad isn’t big enough to cope with two big players like that missing. No doubt it was a disruption,” he said.
“Daniel is out for up to eight weeks which is a big blow for us and Phillipe didn’t train all week. He had injections just to get on the bench.
“It’s difficult if you take those two out, two players who have been very efficient for us this season.
“This little period will test us now but players will come in and it’s a great opportunity to a stake a claim.
“We have a very busy period coming up and we’ve got a squad that needs as many of its good players as possible so it’s not ideal.”
Expanding on the nature of Sturridge’s complaint, Rodgers added: “It was an ankle sprain in training. He just slipped on the surface.
“We thought initially it was the toe but he went straight to the medics and was getting a scan before the end of training.
“He’ll be disappointed and it is a big blow for us.”
The bad news may have started with Sturridge’s injury but it did not end there, with defeat leaving Liverpool seven points shy of league pace-setters Arsenal.
Rodgers could not hide his frustrations at the performance.
“Disappointing is an understatement,” he said.
“We went into the game with confidence and belief but we made too many mistakes with and without the ball.
“We lacked quality with the ball, we never created enough and never kept the ball long enough.
“I always felt we were in control of the game but we needed to show more quality and penetrate a wee bit more.”
After successive defeats to Southampton and Crystal Palace, Hull boss Steve Bruce cut a contented figure at full-time.
“I said last week was the most disappointing since the start of the season because the expectation was to roll over Crystal Palace and we didn’t play well at all,” he said.
“It was important to get a response. I knew there would be one because it was Liverpool at home and you need a game like that sometimes.
“Let’s be fair: Liverpool have better players than we have. But the big thing was the response of the team after the disappointment last week and they showed that.”