Liverpool have been hit by the news that star striker Fernando Torres is facing six weeks on the sidelines as he requires knee surgery on a torn cartilage.
The news is a further setback for beleaguered manager Rafa Benitez, who will also be without skipper Steven Gerrard for a fortnight and Yossi Benayoun for a month.
The Reds’ miserable season plumbed new depths on Wednesday as they crashed out of the FA Cup at home to Championship side Reading.
With Liverpool already eliminated from the Champions League and faltering in the Premier League, their season is deteriorating rapidly.
Torres was withdrawn from the action during the first half of Wednesday’s defeat while Gerrard did not emerge for the second period.
Both players were sent for scans and the club have now confirmed their absences, plus the injury blow suffered by Israeli midfielder Benayoun.
A spokesman told the club’s official website: “Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres both underwent scans earlier today after coming off in the FA Cup tie against Reading.
“Steven has a hamstring strain and will be out for a fortnight, while Fernando has torn a cartilage in his right knee. The injury will require surgery and he is expected to be sidelined for six weeks.
“Yossi Benayoun also suffered a fractured rib in the game and will be unavailable for between three and four weeks.”