It’s a premature return to Merseyside for Sadio Mane after he sustained a rib injury in Senegal’s World Cup qualifier on Thursday, leaving the Reds to hope for the best.
The 29-year-old played just 28 minutes in Senegal’s 1-1 draw against Togo having been substituted after an aerial challenge left him in pain.
Senegal manager Aliou Cisse would explain that “we took him off as a precaution and there is nothing serious,” offering some hope that it’s only a short-term issue.
But following X-rays on his ribs on Friday, Cisse confirmed that Mane has since returned to Liverpool.
It means he will take no part in Sunday’s clash with Congo but for Liverpool, their concern will centre around his availability against Arsenal on Saturday and the following games.
Roberto Firmino is already absent with a hamstring strain and the Reds can ill afford to see the No. 10, who has eight goals in 15 games, spend time on the sidelines ahead of a frantic festive period.
With Senegal having already qualified for the third round of Africa’s World Cup qualifiers, there was no need to keep Mane around should he be in any doubt and the hope will be that it’s simply a sensible and precautionary decision on Senegal’s behalf.
Time will tell with the Liverpool squad to start linking back up throughout the coming days, but question marks have also been placed on Jordan Henderson‘s fitness.
The captain was also sent back to Merseyside prematurely with the need for “further assessment” on an unnamed injury.
It’s an all too familiar issue for the Reds and now one can only hope neither are facing anything serious.