Jürgen Klopp has confirmed Sadio Mané could miss the rest of the season with a knee injury but insisted the setback should not derail Liverpool’s Champions League prospects.
Liverpool have yet to discover the full extent of the injury that forced Mané out of the Merseyside derby on Saturday as his knee is too swollen for scans to give a clear prognosis. “It is not 100% clear,” Klopp said.
“We have to wait until the knee is not that swollen any more. The only thing I can say for sure is that he will not be available for tomorrow [against Bournemouth]. All the rest we have to see. It is not very positive when it is like this. I cannot say at this exact time so we have to wait.”
However, when asked if the injury was potentially season-ending for the Senegal international, Klopp replied: “Unfortunately that is possible but why should I say it now when I don’t know? The knee is swollen and we have to wait for the final assessment. Even then – especially then – the more difficult the situation the better it is to handle it.
“My job is to find solutions. This is a good situation: we have 59 points, we are in a nice position – yes a few teams have played less games than we have but they cannot win them all because they have to play each other. The whole season is to prepare the finish and this is the finishing part of the season. Eight games to go. We expect results from ourselves, we want to fight for everything. A few key players are not available at the moment but as long as we have 11 players to start and a few to bring on everything is fine.”
Mané has scored 13 goals in his debut season for Liverpool, who won only one of seven matches when he was absent at the Africa Cup of Nations in January, and his pace has been a major asset to Klopp’s side. But the Liverpool manager insists his squad are better equipped to cope without the forward at this stage of the campaign and hinted a more defensive approach may be required to secure a top-four finish.
Klopp, who has Daniel Sturridge back in training ahead of Bournemouth’s visit, said: “The big problem in January was not only Sadio missing – everyone would miss Sadio. Southampton probably still miss him, Red Bull Salzburg miss him. It was such a hard moment in January. We had all these games, it was not the freshest moment of the season, then we were missing Sadio in the shape he was in, plus we were missing Phil [Coutinho], which was not perfect.
“It is not about thinking ‘How can we play perfect football?’ now. We need to get results and the first thing I will think about is how we can defend against Bournemouth, not how can we create 27 chances. If we are strong and perfectly organised in defence then Bournemouth cannot get confidence in the game. We don’t think what we miss, we only think what we can do to win this football game.
“As a manager I can’t really remember the last time I had all the players available and the decisions to make were really difficult. The only job to do is play the best you are able to and not who you miss. We have the possibility to change formation. I am not sure we can line up similar to the last game but we have different options: we can bring in young boys, we can bring in experience up front, Milly can play on the wing. There are a lot of different things but do we miss Sadio? Yes. Do we miss Adam [Lallana]? Yes. Do we miss Hendo [Jordan Henderson]? Yes. But they are not for this game because they are not here.”