Jurgen Klopp’s “naive” decision not to bring in another defender has cost Liverpool the title according to Glen Johnson.
The Reds went into the season as defending champions having ended their 30-year wait for a league title.
But they were quickly up against it with Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez both sustaining long-term injuries.
Liverpool sold Dejan Lovren in the summer without bringing in a replacement and have opted not to sign anyone in January.
A poor run of form has seen them slip out of title contention and while Johnson admits you can’t forecast for injuries he does believe the Reds missed a trick by not adding a defender.
He told CheltenhamGuides.com: “It’s impossible to gauge how many injuries you get in a season, how bad they are and how long each person might take to recover.
“I think they were naive in not getting someone in on loan because the kids – who will hopefully go on to be some fantastic players – are being asked to fill the shoes of Van Dijk and that’s not easy for anybody.
“It’s not as simple as buying a 50, 60, 70 million pound defender that is going to compete.
“The only options they had was to work with the youngsters or get somebody else in on loan and they opted to go with the youngsters and some have been great and some don’t look like they’re ready.
“They’ve been unlucky with too many injuries at once.”
The Reds have seen a dip in results over the past month – failing to win any of their past five league games.
It has allowed Manchester City to open up a seven point gap while Liverpool are now battling to stay in the top four.
Johnson now believes the title is beyond them and doesn’t see Champions League qualification as a formality.
He added: “I don’t think Liverpool will have enough to win the league this year, but I expect them to get the top four – but it will be tough.
“There are six clubs fighting for the top four again.”