Daniel Sturridge may not play again for Liverpool this season, manager Brendan Rodgers has revealed.
The England forward has struggled with hip and calf problems this term and has not featured for the Reds since the FA Cup win over Blackburn on 8 April.
Liverpool have five Premier League games remaining this season as they look to move up the table and secure a top-four finish.
The Merseyside outfit travel to Hull City in the Premier League on Tuesday night but Rodgers says that he wants to protect the striker’s long-term fitness as the end of the season approaches.
Speaking at a news conference at Melwood on Monday, Rodgers said: “It has been difficult for Daniel, of course. Daniel is a good lad who obviously wants to play, wants to be working and helping the team.
“But it has just been one of those seasons for him where he has been very unfortunate and has just missed out. We’re just going to have to monitor that day by day and see where he’s at.
“When he’s been fit he’s been brilliant for the team, the key now is to see if we can get him back fit and consistently playing. We’ll see if that’s going to be this season or the pre-season.
“We’ll do what’s in the best interests of him; we have to protect Daniel and make sure he’s going to be here over the next number of years, playing and playing to the level that we all know he can.”
Liverpool are are currently seven points behind fourth-placed Manchester United, but can narrow the gap to four points with victory against Steve Bruce’s men on Tuesday.
Sturridge has made just 18 appearances in all competitions for Liverpool this season during an injury-hit campaign.