Sadio Mane missed Liverpool’s last two Premier League clashes but remains on course for a return after the fortnight winter break.
Liverpool’s No. 10 had featured in 31 of the club’s 37 games across all competitions prior to sustaining a hamstring injury early in the win at Wolves.
The injury meant he missed the wins over both West Ham and Southampton, and the two FA Cup ties against Shrewsbury – to which he was not set to feature in as Jurgen Klopp handed a timely breather to the majority of his senior cohort.
Mane’s forced absence came from a “small muscle tear” which Klopp conceded “we were lucky with the injury that it was not that serious,” meaning his return was always pencilled in for after the winter break.
The 27-year-old appeared to remain on Merseyside for the duration of the week-long break while many of his teammates jetted off to various parts of the world, continuing his recovery ahead of Liverpool’s trip to Norwich on Saturday.
After posting a picture on social media next to Dejan Lovren in the Melwood dressing room earlier in the week, Mane has provided yet another positive update on his recovery as he offered a glimpse into his work on the outside pitches:
Sadio Mane on Instagram looking fit and sharp ????? pic.twitter.com/jypeABOdTk
— Leila.????? (@Leila559100601) February 9, 2020
Ball work, movement in close quarters and swift changes in direction appeared to be on the agenda as part of his strength and conditioning training.
However, there is no doubt the Reds will not rush him back into action should he still be considered a slight risk, with a healthy lead in the league providing such luxuries.
In his absence, Mohamed Salah became Liverpool’s outright leading goalscorer this season with 18, moving three clear of Mane.
Both Divock Origi and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain stepped into his position against the Hammers and Saints respectively, where the latter added to his goal tally in the second-half rout of Southampton.
Mane will slot straight back into the fold once he is ready but with six games in 21 days starting from the trip to Carrow Road on Saturday, which also includes the Champions League last 16 first leg at Atletico Madrid, Liverpool will also err on the side of caution.
Mane is set to be joined in training by the rest of his senior teammates on Monday, which could also include James Milner and Xherdan Shaqiri, as preparations begin for the meeting against Norwich, who are currently cemented to the bottom of the table after picking up just 18 points.
Storm Ciara, however, could have a say in matters and delay the return of a number of players making their way back to Liverpool from their holiday.