Liverpool receive Mane boost
Senegalese available to return to starting XI after recent foot injury
Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp has been handed a boost ahead of their must-win match against Napoli tomorrow morning (Singapore time).
Reds forward Sadio Mane came away from the Bournemouth match unscathed and is available to return to their starting XI for their crucial Champions League encounter at Anfield.
The Senegalese suffered a cut that required several stitches during the 1-0 victory over Everton in the Merseyside Derby on Dec 2 and missed the 3-1 win over Burnley three days later.
Mane came on as a 65th-minute substitute in last Saturday's 4-0 thrashing of Bournemouth and Klopp was happy to report that the player felt no major ill effects.
"Sadio can deal with the pain obviously - it looked like that in Bournemouth, so that's cool. It's good enough that we can consider him at least," said Klopp, who will no doubt be glad to have his favoured front three of Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah available.
The focus will be on Salah to produce the goods up front after looking more like the player that scored 44 goals in his debut campaign at Anfield with a hat-trick in the win at Bournemouth.
Liverpool rode the free-scoring form of Salah, Firmino and Mane, who each scored 10 Champions League goals, to reach last season's final.
Salah's weekend treble took his tally for the season to 12, but the Egyptian's only two goals in the Champions League came in a routine 4-0 win over Red Star Belgrade in October.
"(He was) back to his best, he has been really good this season. He has probably been a bit frustrated with himself but that just shows you the high standards he has got," insisted Liverpool left-back Andy Robertson after Salah's magical display on England's south coast.
Against a Napoli side that have failed to score in only three games this season, Liverpool may well need another two or more from Salah or another source to avoid a big European night at Anfield falling flat.
The stage is set for a tense night under the Anfield lights where Liverpool will require the kind of grandstand finish they enjoyed in 2004 when they needed to beat Greek side Olympiakios by two clear goals in their last group game to progress and did so thanks to Steven Gerrard's last-gasp screamer.
"Now we have the chance to go through and that is pretty special after the campaign we played," said Klopp.
"Now we have to create a special atmosphere with the way we play and we have to use it as well.
"I am really looking forward to it.
"It is a big opportunity for us and we will try everything to put it right."
Klopp confirmed defender Dejan Lovren, who has missed Liverpool's last three matches, will need a late fitness test before a decision is taken on his involvement.
The manager also expects midfielder Adam Lallana to feature after the England midfielder felt no ill effects from a head injury he sustained against Bournemouth. - REUTERS, AFP
- Club Brugge v Atletico Madrid
- AS Monaco v Borussia Dortmund
- Barcelona v Tottenham Hotspur
- Inter Milan v PSV Eindhoven
- Spurs are second on head-to-head away goals so will go through if they win, or at least if Inter do not pick up more points than them
- Liverpool v Napoli
- Red Star Belgrade v Paris Saint-Germain
- Napoli will be through if they draw, or if they lose and PSG are also beaten
- PSG will be through if they win and are also certain to advance if Liverpool do not gain victory
- Liverpool must win to have any chance of progress. If PSG win, Liverpool must win 1-0 or by two goals or more. If Liverpool, PSG and Napoli all finish on nine points, the English club would finish first on the three-way head-to-head, with second place depending on the scoreline at Anfield.
- Schalke 04 v Lokomotiv Moscow
- Galatasaray v Porto
* Qualified for the Champions League Round of 16
** Qualified for the Europa League Round of 32