Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has cast doubt over Sadio Mane‘s chances of recovering from a troubling knee injury before the end of the season.
The Reds are currently deciding whether Mane should go under the knife to repair damage to the winger’s knee cartilage, after he was forced off midway through Saturday’s Merseyside derby.
Mane is said to be “desperate” to get back on the field between now and May, as he looks to seal a top-four finish for Liverpool.
But speaking ahead of Wednesday night’s clash with Bournemouth at Anfield, Klopp was far from optimistic about Mane’s recovery, though he stressed he was “open” to a surprise development.
“It doesn’t look at the moment like he could play one more game this season,” he explained.
“But if somebody wants to surprise me with positive [news] then I am open for this.”
Klopp typically takes a hopeful stance when it comes to injuries, with a clear example being Jordan Henderson‘s current layoff, which was initially said to be a minor problem.
And that he has acknowledged the likelihood that Mane will be sidelined until the end of the season could be telling.
The German will now be forced to plan without his top goalscorer, with eight games left to play.
Klopp named Divock Origi in Mane’s place against the Cherries, as part of two enforced changes to the side that beat Everton 3-1 last weekend.
Ragnar Klavan also replaced the struggling Joel Matip, and with Emre Can a late inclusion after missing training on Monday, the toll Klopp’s squad are taking is clear.
Along with Henderson and Mane, Adam Lallana is also on the treatment table, while Adam Bogdan and Danny Ings are both long-term concerns.
Ovie Ejaria is on his way back to full training, however, while on Wednesday night Daniel Sturridge made his first appearance in Liverpool’s matchday squad since February 4.
Losing Mane is a big blow to the Reds’ hopes, with Klopp seeking Champions League qualification this term.
The Senegalese netted 13 games in the Premier League, but now the burden falls on the likes of Origi, Sturridge, Roberto Firmino and Philippe Coutinho.
Their first test will see them look to avenge a 4-3 defeat to Bournemouth at Dean Court in December—a game that, oddly, saw Mane also withdrawn through injury.