Lovren sidelined for up to a month, Sakho ready for comeback

LONDON • Dejan Lovren has escaped serious injury following a challenge by West Bromwich Albion's Craig Gardner.

However, the Liverpool defender may need a month to recover from the impact to his knee.

The Croatia international was taken off on a stretcher in the second half of a tempestuous 2-2 draw at Anfield on Sunday with his knee in a brace and an oxygen mask on his face after a heavy tackle from the midfielder.

Gardner won the ball but caught Lovren's knee on the follow-through.

A scan - delayed on Monday because of swelling - has revealed no ligament damage. However, due to severe bruising, swelling and a deep cut that required five stitches, the 26-year-old, who left Anfield on crutches, could be out for three to four weeks.

The scan result represents a relief to Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp even if he expects Mamadou Sakho to make a timely return from a knee ligament injury against Watford on Sunday.

The Frenchman has been sidelined since landing awkwardly in the 2-1 defeat by Crystal Palace on Nov 8.

He resumed full training on Friday and, barring any reaction this week, will be considered for the match at Vicarage Road.

Klopp absolved Gardner of seeking to injure Lovren, saying only that his touchline feud with West Brom manager Tony Pulis was the result of "not a friendly game".

Klopp also defended his goalkeeper Simon Mignolet for making another blunder at Anfield, and it is understood that the Belgium international is close to signing a new contract at Liverpool.

He attempted to punch a Chris Brunt corner clear but fluffed his lines, allowing Craig Dawson to score West Brom's equaliser.

In Liverpool's last home tie in the Europa League, Mignolet held on to the ball for 22 seconds against Bordeaux, and the French outfit scored from the resulting free kick.

Negotiations over extending his career at Anfield, however, are set to be concluded before the end of the month.

Mignolet has 21/2 years remaining on the five-year contract he signed on arriving from Sunderland for £9 million (S$19.2 million) in 2013. Liverpool are willing to revise his initial £60,000-a-week deal.

THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 16, 2015, with the headline 'Lovren sidelined for up to a month, Sakho ready for comeback'. Print Edition | Subscribe