Liverpool’s Champions League hopes have been rocked after manager Jurgen Klopp revealed Sadio Mane will not play again this season.
Mane is set to undergo knee surgery after sustaining the injury in an awkward tangle with Leighton Baines in last Saturday’s Merseyside derby victory over Everton.
The attacker had to be replaced by Divock Origi after it became clear he was not able to walk on the injury having earlier scored in the match.
Mane has been in electric form for Liverpool this season, scoring 13 Premier League goals and adding five assists in 27 appearances.
“It is clear Mane’s season is over,” Klopp told reporters.
“It will be pretty much impossible for him to play again this season. He will have a long break until next season.
“Sadio we are pretty sure will need surgery. I am not 100 per cent sure when it will happen.
“That is what I expected. I thought he was lucky more did not happen. He will be ready for the next season and that is the only good news.”
His absence comes as Klopp’s men have seven matches to try and seal a return to the Champions League amid a fierce battle with the likes of Tottenham, Manchester City, Arsenal and Manchester United.
– “Lallana’s better. Not an option yet.”
– “Henderson on a good way.”
– “Sadio needs surgery. His season is over.” pic.twitter.com/ipCiBGXUrf
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) April 7, 2017
The first of those games comes away to Stoke City on Saturday, with Jordan Henderson (foot) and Adam Lallana (thigh) definitely out, while there are doubts over Philippe Coutinho (illness) and Daniel Sturridge (hip).
“Phil is still ill,” added Klopp. “He was not at Melwood Thursday or Friday. He feels much better but we will give him all the time he needs. He will be really close and we will have to see.
“Lallana is much better but isn’t yet back training and we need a few more days because it is a shooting muscle.
“Similar with Henderson, he is in a good way but we do not know when he will be training again. Sturridge is training with no major issues and we will see.”
Klopp is finding it difficult to cope with key players being out through injury.
“If you take the players we have missing out of other teams, I would be surprised if they played their best games,” he said.
“I can’t remember last time I had everyone available and on top form. That is life. My thoughts are only about the players who can play.
“All the injuries don’t make life easier. But as long as we have 11. Now we are just thinking about the line-up against Stoke, which is a real challenge.
“I would love to replace an injured player with the player of same quality – maybe his brother or twin.”
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