Jurgen Klopp says Sadio Mane could miss three games with a ‘small muscle tear’. The forward has already missed one, of course, with games against West Ham United and Southampton to come.
“He has a small muscle tear, which is serious enough to keep him out,” said Klopp, per the club’s official site. “We were lucky with the injury as well, so it was not that serious.
“But of course, when you have three games in a week then that means he is out for these three games.”
Klopp is right to feel lucky about that, of course. A more serious muscle tear would have kept Mane out for far longer. In that respect, it’s good he came off when he did and this ‘small’ injury shouldn’t interrupt things too much.
But Klopp should also feel lucky about the timing.
It’s come at a point where Liverpool face Shrewsbury Town, West Ham, and Southampton. A could weeks before and Mane is missing games against Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United. A few weeks later and he’s a big doubt for the Champions League game with Atletico Madrid.
It shines a light on how fortunate Liverpool were over December and January. Despite a unique number of games where they played virtually every three days, none of their front three went down with anything serious.
Virgil van Dijk, too, played virtually every game but came through unscathed. An injury to a key player over that period would have seriously complicated things. Instead, the first injury to an irreplaceable player comes ahead of the two most routine games for a while.
Now Mane, easily one of Liverpool’s best players since his £34m arrival, should be back, recover fully over the two-week break, and get a game in before the Atletico clash.
Injuries are never good. But Liverpool can consider themselves to be quite fortunate that this one came when it did.