Liverpool expected to be without Sadio Mane for start of Premier League season


Liverpool are expected to be without Sadio Mane for the start of the Premier League season after he helped Senegal reach the final of the Africa Cup of Nations .

Mane helped set up an extra-time own goal as Senegal beat Tunisia 1-0 to reach Friday’s AFCON final against Algeria.

The final takes place exactly three weeks before Liverpool’s Premier League opener at home to Norwich City on August 9.

And with Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp having given all his players three weeks off following their international exertions this summer, it looks like that will rule Mane out of the clash against promoted Norwich.

Klopp is set to have his other two frontline strikers available, with Egypt ace Mo Salah and Brazil star Roberto Firmino having started their summer breaks following their AFCON and Copa America exploits.

Sadio Mane celebrates with Senegal teammates after reaching the AFCON final

 

The Liverpool boss will also hope to be able to call on Rhian Brewster – who has impressed so far in Liverpool’s pre-season wins over Tranmere Rovers and Bradford City – and Divock Origi , who scored crucial goals in the Reds’ glorious run to Champions League triumph.

Brewster scored in Liverpool’s 3-1 win at Bradford on Sunday, having also netted twice in the 6-0 victory over Tranmere last Thursday which kicked off the Reds’ pre-season programme.

But Mane – whose 22 Premier League goals made him last season’s joint top scorer alongside team-mate Salah and Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick -Aubameyang – will be a big miss if he is unavailable.

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It is still possible he could play, as respected football writer Jack Sear pointed out that Mane is believed to have had a week’s holiday after Liverpool’s Champions League final win over Tottenham in Madrid on June 1.

However, it seems likely that Klopp will rest one of his star men rather than risk early-season burnout or injuries.

Senegal reached the ACON final for the second time thanks to an extra-time own goal from Tunisia defender Dylan Bronn in Sunday’s semi-final.

Bronn inadvertently headed the only goal 10 minutes into extra time after both sides had penalties saved in normal time.

Rhian Brewster celebrates after scoring against Bradford

 

Mouez Hassen tipped Sadio Mane’s free-kick on to Bronn’s head as Senegal closed in on a first AFCON title.

Tunisia had a late penalty award overturned by VAR.

After Salif Sane’s headed clearance ricocheted off Idrissa Gueye’s elbow, the referee initially pointed to the spot before overturning his decision after reviewing video footage.

Riyad Mahrez after scoring Algeria’s winner against Nigeria

 

Senegal will face Algeria, after they beat Nigeria 2-1 with a stoppage-time free kick by Riyad Mahrez in the other semi-final on Sunday.

A William Troost-Ekong own goal gave Algeria the lead, before Nigeria equalised out of the blue through an Odion Ighalo penalty, awarded after a long VAR review.

But Manchester City ace Mahrez came up with the winner for his country with virtually the last kick of the game, whipping a free-kick into the top corner.





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