Sadio Mané was the last Liverpool player to return to first-team training after his summer break yet Jurgen Klopp could well be tempted to hand him a start on Friday night.
The Senegalese forward appeared at Melwood on Monday after just 16 days off due to a prolonged appearance at the AFCON where Senegal were the beaten finalists.
Speaking last week in Evian, Klopp mentioned that Mané’s shorter holiday period means Liverpool’s number 10 may not have lost much of last season’s sharpness.
“Sadio had 16 days off – he will be in a good shape. He doesn’t drink, he doesn’t eat too much.” Klopp said.
“He had a training programme, maybe after 10 days probably he started with a little bit of running, so I think he will be fine. But we have to see.”
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There are also other statistics it might be worth paying some heed to with regards to making a decision around whether Mané starts against Norwich.
As reported on PremierLeague.com, Mané has made a habit of scoring for Liverpool on the opening day of the season. In fact, he can equal a feat only previously achieved by Teddy Sheringham if he scores on Friday against Norwich.
Mané has netted four goals in his three opening games of the season in a Liverpool jersey. If on Friday, he did it for the fourth consecutive season, he would emulate the record set by Sheringham when he managed to score on the opening days of every campaign from 1992/93 to 1995/96.
Mohamed Salah already looks sharp with Roberto Firmino not far behind him in terms of match fitness. If Klopp can play Mané up front as well, starting the season with his first-choice attacking trio, Norwich will struggle to keep Liverpool at bay right from the first minute.
It’s also worth noting that Mané scored five goals in six games against newly-promoted sides last season.
Yes, Klopp could probably afford to let Mané watch from the stands as he gets back up to pace with the rest of the squad. But where’s the fun in that?
Don’t be surprised if, despite having less than a week’s first-team training under his belt since returning, Mané starts – and probably scores – against Norwich.