John Aldrige believes Liverpool have been dealt a significant blow losing Mamadou Sakho to injury.
The France international limped off during the Reds' 2-1 loss to Crystal Palace on Sunday after falling awkwardly and many feared the worst when he left the pitch.
Sakho has fortunately not damaged his anterior cruciate ligament - an injury that has forced Danny Ings and Joe Gomez out for the rest of the season - but his knee problem will see him out of action for the next two months.
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The former Paris Saint-Germain defender has been in a rich vein of form since Jurgen Klopp took the helm at Anfield and formed a solid partnership with Martin Skrtel at the heart of the defence.
Sakho becomes the latest member of the Liverpool squad to be sidelined with injury, joining the likes of Daniel Sturridge, Jordan Henderson and Jon Flanagan, as well as the aforementioned Ings and Gomez.
And Aldridge admits the 25-year-old will be sorely missed.
"Sakho's recent form has been excellent and he’s become a real fans’ favourite, and losing him will be a massive blow," the Reds legend wrote in his column for the Liverpool Echo.
"What I thought was refreshing was the sight of Sakho trying to play on after he had treatment.
"The fans were singing his name and you could see how much he wanted to get back on the field for them. In the end, he had to admit defeat and come off.
"In modern day football a lot of players won’t even start a game unless they are 100% fit so I take my hat off to Sakho.
"The fact that he was able to play on for a bit hopefully suggests that it’s not too serious.
"Injuries have certainly hurt us this season. As well as Danny Ings and Joe Gomez doing their cruciate ligaments, Klopp hasn’t even been able to call upon Jordan Henderson or Daniel Sturridge so far."
Under Klopp, Sakho has looked a completely different player and has become a firm fan favourite at Anfield.
Liverpool have been crying out for a leader in defence, something that has not been present since Jamie Carragher retired in 2013.
Signed for £17 million in 2013 from PSG, Sakho was in and out of the team under Brendan Rodgers and not having a streak of matches affected his form when given the nod.
Klopp has made the Reds' number 17 his go-to man at the back and it is a trick that has worked wonders. Sakho dominates the opposition with his physical presence, not allowing them to breathe.
His name is now bellowed at Anfield several times per match and Kopites feel their team are in good hands when he lines up in defence.
From seven appearances, he wins an average of 66% of his duels per match - higher than any Reds outfield player - except Jordan Henderson - and has a 91% pass completion average (via Squawka).
Who Will Replace Sakho?
A place has now opened up in Klopp's side to face Manchester City away on Saturday week.
Sakho has set extremely high standards and it looks likely that Dejan Lovren will take over alongside Skrtel.
The Croatia international has not lived up to the hefty £20 million price tag paid for his services in 2014 and looked like he would be a bit-part player for the rest of the season.
Lovren replaced Sakho against Palace. It can always be difficult for a defender to come off the bench and, although he didn't do much wrong, the defence looked much more frail.
Kolo Toure is also in the running but, at the ripe age of 34-years-old, is in the twilight years of his career and Klopp may be sceptical of playing the ex-Arsenal man in league matches.
How badly do you think Sakho's loss will affect the Reds? Give YOUR opinion in the comment box below!
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