Jurgen Klopp looks past Sadio Mane injury as he argues Liverpool will cope without influential forward

Samuel Lovett
Klopp has said Mane's absence will do little to impact the side's defensive abilities: Getty

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has argued his side will cope without the injured Sadio Mane after the Senegal international was ruled out for the rest of the season with a knee injury.

Klopp confirmed on Friday that Mane is likely to require surgery after falling awkwardly in the recent Merseyside derby and will be unavailable for Liverpool’s remaining seven league games.

Mane’s absence could prove disastrous for the side's hopes of securing a top-four finish. Liverpool have failed to win any of the five league games the forward has missed this term and with Jordan Henderson and Adam Lallana both struggling with injury, Klopp now faces a growing selection crisis.

But the German has remained defiant that Liverpool will come to terms with such a setback.

Speaking ahead of his side’s trip to Stoke on Saturday, Klopp insisted his men proved their ability to create chances without Mane during Wednesday’s 2-2 draw with Bournemouth.

“I know everyone was talking before about how we miss Sadio Mane and we do miss Sadio Mane but he doesn't help us too much in defending and we created enough chances to have scored more,” the German said.

“Again, around the second goal, Sadio would not have been too much involved in defending so the influence of missing Sadio was not too big.

“That's why it felt like it did at the end. It could have been good. It could have been the perfect game in terms of the result, a bad start, coming back at this stage of the season with a sick Phil [Coutinho] and a tired Roberto [Firminio], all that stuff.

“It could have been the perfect result but unfortunately between perfect and difficult to accept – sometimes it is only a second. That's how it was in this game.”

With Mane, Henderson and Lallana all unavailable for Saturday’s clash at Stoke, Klopp will now be forced to consider Liverpool’s up-and-coming youngsters - but suggested he won’t be rushing into any decisions.

“I love giving these boys an opportunity but it has to be the right situation and the game against Bournemouth didn't look like the perfect moment to give them the responsibility for the rest of the game,” Klopp continued.

“Everybody saw it. It was not perfect and I made the decision. The young boys give us a few options – it's about Ben [Woodburn], Trent [Alexander-Arnold], Harry [Wilson], Marko Grujic – and these are the boys we have to think about but also about the position, who can help us where and can we create a situation where they can really perform?”

Sadio Mane opened the scoring in the 228th Merseyside derby, only to later leave injured (Getty)

As for Stoke, Xherdan Shaqiri is expected to return to Mark Hughes’ starting XI for the first time since January.

The Swiss has been battling calf problems but Hughes hopes his return will give him a fully-fit squad to choose from against Klopp's men.

Jonathan Walters should return after missing the midweek loss at Burnley due to concussion, while Marc Muniesa and Mame Diouf have recovered from minor knee complaints.

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