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After AFCON final, could Salah or Mané return against Leicester?

Mohamed Salah played a full part in Egypt's Africa Cup of Nations loss to Senegal on Sunday but is already back training with Liverpool.

After AFCON final, could Salah or Mané return against Leicester?
AFP/ Getty Images

Liverpool boss Jürgen Klopp has confirmed "physical monster" Mohamed Salah is in contention to face Leicester City on Thursday after Egypt's Africa Cup of Nations heartbreak.

Salah is back! Mané must wait

Salah played the full 120 minutes of Sunday's AFCON final loss to Senegal, with his side beaten 4-2 on penalties following a goalless draw after extra time.

The 29-year-old returned to training with Liverpool less than 48 hours later, however, and has declared himself ready to play a part against Leicester at Anfield.

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"Mo is now back. I have spoken to him already," Klopp told the Reds' official website on Tuesday. 

"He is very disappointed of course, but looking forward to all the things coming up here now.

"I spoke to him and pretty much the first thing Mo told me was: 'I'm ready'. He is an experienced player; a physical monster, to be honest, so we have to see. 

"He will obviously have a little recovery session today and we will see how he feels tomorrow and from there we go.

"The proper plan we don't have, play him as often and as long as possible is probably the plan, but we will not rush it. 

"But if he is fine we will not leave him out for the wrong reasons as well, so let's see."

While Salah was left to rue what might have been for Egypt, club-mate Sadio Mane was celebrating a maiden international title after scoring the decisive spot-kick for Senegal.

Mané was still celebrating his country's triumph in Dakar on Monday and will not be considered for selection by Klopp against Leicester.

"Sadio has no chance as he's not even here, but Mo yes," Klopp said.

"Sadio flies out if it's possible on Wednesday night, so will arrive here on Thursday but he is, of course, then not involved in the Leicester game.

"It means the world to him, it means the world to his people, it means the world to Senegal. 

"We respect that a lot and we would never consider to have called back him from there or whatever – let them do what they do in the moment because they deserve it.

"They've had an incredibly intense time, so when he is back we will talk to him and we will see how we can use him."

Mané missed a penalty early on in the final and Klopp praised the forward for keeping his cool when it came to stepping up for the decisive spot-kick in the shoot-out.

"The pressure on Sadio with missing the penalty in the game and then the last one… wow! I cannot imagine how he would have felt," the German said. 

"But you could see the joy and relief after that so he was obviously in the best possible shape.

"We have text a little bit here and there but he is still in Africa, still in Senegal, celebrating and we will see – Wednesday night or something like that we will send him out. 

Mané and Salah praised by Liverpool boss

"But yes, it was obviously a big tournament and meant the world to him.

"I think both played a great tournament. The responsibility on their shoulders is absolutely [huge] and the pressure on their shoulders is absolutely insane.

"I don't even have an idea how it must feel in these moments, they carry pretty much a whole country.

"So, Mo couldn't make it but played a really good tournament and Sadio made it and yes, now I have to say really congratulations, outstanding."

While Liverpool must wait for Mane's return, potentially having Salah back involved against Leicester is a huge boost for the Reds.

Salah has scored 16 goals in 20 Premier League games this term – six more than anyone else – while assisting nine times, a tally only Trent Alexander-Arnold (10) can better.

Indeed, no player in Europe's top five league has scored and assisted more combined goals this season than Salah, who is level with Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski on 25.

Liverpool have lost their last two league games against Leicester, but they have won five in a row at Anfield in the top flight in what is their best-such run since December 2020.

Klopp also confirmed Joe Gomez and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are back in training after missing Sunday's FA Cup fourth-round win against Cardiff City.


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