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Liverpool star Mohamed Salah back from injury and could feature at Sparta Prague

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 6 Mar 2024

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Mohamed Salah will begin his build-up to Sunday’s clash with title rivals Manchester City with minutes in the Europa League against Sparta Prague after recovering from injury.

Klopp admits the Egypt international would not normally be in the squad after only returning to training on Tuesday but the current injury situation – there are at least nine first-team players absent – and the context of the season means he travelled with the squad.

And with the weekend’s Premier League encounter against City looming large, the 31-year-old – who has played just 46 minutes in one substitute appearance against Brentford since leaving the Africa Cup of Nations early with a hamstring injury on January 18 – will get a chance to shake off the rust.

“He is with us and has trained two days, he is full of energy, we have to see. But it is so good that he is back. It is really good and you can see he is happy,” said Klopp ahead of the last-16 first-leg tie.

“It’s an unusual situation being that long out and then came back against Brentford, played an incredible game and was then out again.

“Two days in team training: in a different situation players are not in the squad in this moment but now the situation make sense.

“We want to be careful, we have to be careful but we’re in the middle of a super-intense period of the season and we need everyone.

“So let’s see how long we can use him and these kinds of things. Yes, it’s just good news.”

Salah’s return to fitness has ignited a club-versus-country row as Egypt rejected Liverpool’s request to exempt their captain from an upcoming camp in Abu Dhabi for a friendly tournament where they will play New Zealand – Tunisia or Croatia await the winners – as they want to assess his fitness.

It has subsequently been reported the Egyptian FA, who reluctantly agreed to allow Salah to return to Merseyside for treatment after he sustained a hamstring injury midway through the Africa Nations Cup in January, have been unable to contact their star player.

Asked about his international call-up, Klopp added: “Let’s see how long he can play.

“Two games with Egypt is really not up to me – we are not really involved. It is discussed with other departments.”

Salah’s return will be carefully managed but Slavia Prague are possibly not the best opponents to be facing as Klopp recalls their coach Brian Priske’s physical approach in a game against them for Midtjylland.

The game was a Champions League dead rubber but it proved costly as Diogo Jota sustained a knee injury which sidelined him for three months.

“I remember right, we had some argument on the touchline about style of play as the opponent was pretty rough,” said Klopp.

“I saw the Galatasaray game (Sparta’s previous game in the play-off round) and that was not a friendly game as well.

“It is knockout stages, you go for everything and everyone involved in this competition does the same. We aren’t here for a friendly game.”

Priske admits he does not know which side Klopp will field but is not focusing on individuals.

“Liverpool are playing great this season and my boys will have their hands full,” he told a press conference.

“It is also difficult to predict who will start for them, considering the size and quality of their squad.

“However, we’re more interested in their style of play than specific personnel.”

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