Liverpool's top-four bid suffers Mane blow

LONDON • Liverpool forward Sadio Mane is out of today's Premier League clash against Bournemouth with a knee injury that could sideline him for the rest of the season, manager Jurgen Klopp said yesterday.

Mane picked up the injury in Liverpool's 3-1 win over Everton on Saturday. A prolonged absence for the Senegal international could hurt his team's chances of finishing in the top four.

The 24-year-old's departure to the African Nations Cup in January coincided with Liverpool's worst run of results all season - the club won just one of seven games in all competitions without him.

"I can say for sure he won't be available for tomorrow," Klopp told a news conference yesterday. "The knee is swollen. We wait for the final assessment. It's possible (his season could be over) but why should I say that now?"

He will also be without skipper Jordan Henderson and midfielder Adam Lallana today, but forward Daniel Sturridge returned to training for the first time since the start of February.

Striker Divock Origi came off the bench to score Liverpool's third goal against Everton at the weekend, and Klopp indicated that the Belgian international could start.

"As long as we have 11 players to start then everything is fine," he added. "It's good to have Divock. He's a very important option for us now."

Klopp's side have been outstanding against the Premier League's leading clubs. They beat Arsenal twice, and have recorded victories over Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City.

All five of their league defeats this season have come against opponents in the bottom half of the table, including a shock 4-3 loss at Bournemouth in December, a game in which the Reds had held a 3-1 lead.

None of Liverpool's final eight league matches are against teams ranked in the top seven after last weekend's fixtures. It means they must get better at defeating teams lower down the table if they are to secure a top-four place.

Klopp said his team learnt a valuable lesson from the Bournemouth defeat. "One situation changed the game. We felt too confident in a specific moment. You learn the hard way," said the German.

Liverpool and Bournemouth are unbeaten in their last four games.

Cherries right-back Adam Smith insisted they have no fear of facing Liverpool.

"We know that if we put them under pressure and don't give them time on the ball, we can try to force them into mistakes," he said. "We're going there with a bit of confidence."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 05, 2017, with the headline 'Liverpool's top-four bid suffers Mane blow'. Print Edition | Subscribe