The 29-year-old, having recovered from an ankle strain over the weekend, was picked to start against Bosnia and Herzegovina but was forced off in the first half with a knee problem.
A scan later revealed that Fellaini had sprained medial ligaments in his left knee and, in turn, would miss two weeks of action.
And Mata, writing in his weekly blog, was quick to lament Fellaini’s untimely knock and expressed hope that nobody else would suffer afflictions over the next couple of days.
“There’s no need to say what it means for us and for our fans, and I hope that we can play a great game and take the three points to Manchester,” he said.
“We will try to extend our good run of results since the season started. I also hope that none of my team-mates has physical problems in the second game with the national teams as it was the case with Fellaini, to whom I wish a speedy recovery.”
Jose Mourinho simply cannot lose any more midfielders. Fellaini would have been one of the first names on the team-sheet at Anfield and the Portuguese will now have to head back to the drawing board. That the in-form midfielder was central – or at least highly important – to his game-plan shouldn’t be doubted.
His boisterousness, physical presence and current confidence would have sent jitters throughout Liverpool’s back four, giving others a chance to have an impact higher up the pitch.