ALBERT RIERA left Anfield on Monday evening desperately frustrated and in great pain but it had little to do with his freshly torn hamstring.
As he hobbled out of the stadium, his head swirling with misery and gloom, it was impossible to escape the feeling Riera was the player who embodied many of the aspects of Liverpool's 2-2 draw with Birmingham City.
Having been restored to the starting line-up after a four week lay-off, Riera began well and showed great vision to create David Ngog's opener but then ran out of ideas before eventually ending up flat on his back, hamstrung and beating the turf in despair.
Riera looked inconsolable as he was helped from the pitch by club doctor Mark Waller, scarcely able to believe that his comeback from injury had lasted just 45 minutes, but any thoughts of self-pity were soon firmly cast to one side.
Another prolonged spell on the sidelines now beckons and Riera's hurt has been made all the more acute by the knowledge he will not be able to help his team-mates dig themselves out of the hole which they are currently in.
Two more squandered points have left Liverpool with even more ground to make up on their top four rivals and had Riera perplexed how a squad that came so close to winning the title last season is currently gasping for air.
The names and faces are familiar yet the mistakes they have been making are anything but which is why it comes as no surprise to hear the Spanish midfielder has called for the squad to rediscover their mental toughness.
'It is the same as before, the same feeling, so we will see in the scan but if it's looking like it, it will be three or four weeks,' said Riera, referring to his latest setback. 'It's not good to have an injury straight after the same one, so maybe it could be a little bit more.
'You feel so frustrated after leaving the team in this condition because we need everyone at the moment. We are in a difficult moment but I think we still have plenty of time and we have to be calm.
'The first thing is that we want to win every single game, every set of three points and be at the top of the table but, at the moment, we have to stick together. We have a lot of injured players and we can see how unlucky we have been this year.
'It's not just because of injuries but because we have conceded a lot of goals from free kicks. You didn't see that last year and we are the same players. We are working as we were last year. We are trying to change this position and it's not working.
'We have to be calm, we have two weeks without games and we have to be stronger after. We need everybody. We need to help each other to be stronger as now our problem could be mental, because we - I don't like saying this - are untidy.'