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“It wasn’t the plan” – Klopp explains why Sadio Mane started vs. Burnley

Jurgen Klopp has admitted it “wasn’t the plan” to start Sadio Mane on his return from the Africa Cup of Nations, but a minor injury to Diogo Jota forced his hand.

Mane only returned to Liverpool training on Friday, having flown back after success in the AFCON final with Senegal, and it was expected that he would be eased in for the Reds.

However, not only was the No. 10 in the matchday squad for the trip to Turf Moor, but he made a return to the starting lineup alongside Mo Salah and Roberto Firmino.

Given the depth of Klopp’s attacking ranks – Divock Origi and Takumi Minamino were left out entirely with Jota and Luis Diaz on the bench – it came as something of a surprise.

But speaking after the 1-0 win over Burnley, Klopp confirmed that a dead leg for Jota prompted him to change his lineup.

“Sadio played really well,” he told reporters.

“It wasn’t the plan to start him today, because you know how intense everything was.

“But Diogo had a dead leg, couldn’t train yesterday, that’s why we started Sadio.”

BURNLEY, ENGLAND - Sunday, February 13, 2022: Liverpool's substitute Luis Díaz warms-up before during the FA Premier League match between Burnley FC and Liverpool FC at Turf Moor. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Klopp also explained why Diaz was not considered for a starting spot, due to the harsh nature of a clash with Burnley and his needing time to adapt.

“For Luis, he adapted really well, but this is a completely different game, like ‘welcome to the Premier League‘,” he said.

“We didn’t want to try it if we didn’t need it, and that’s why we started like we started.

“Sadio did really well, working incredibly hard, and that’s exactly what we expected.”

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