Jürgen Klopp has confirmed Sadio Mane returned to full training on Thursday – and admitted he was impressed by the forward’s condition following his hamstring injury.
The No.19 has not featured since October 1 for Liverpool at Newcastle United due to an issue picked up while on international duty with Senegal.
However, Mane took a step closer to a comeback yesterday by taking part in the Melwood session with his teammates, and Klopp was pleased with his fitness levels.
The manager told his pre-match press conference: “Sadio trained yesterday for the first time with the team and looked really, really good. We will see what we do with that.
“Yesterday it looked like he is ready for at least 20/25 minutes but we have to wait to see how his body reacts to the session because for him it was pretty intense; not because it was intense but because it was his first football session for a long time.
“He did really well, he obviously didn’t miss his abilities or skills during the injury break, so that’s good.”
If Saturday’s trip to West Ham United comes too soon for Mane’s return, he may feature in Senegal’s World Cup qualifying double header with South Africa.
The countries go head-to-head on November 10 and again four days later, with the Liverpool attacker named in his nation’s squad.
Asked about Mane’s call up, Klopp said: “Things are like they are, we cannot change that. We cannot sit here and ignore the situation of Senegal and say we don’t care if they play in the World Cup – that’s not nice and it’s not right.
“We will get into contact with Senegal FA and they have two games to play. Sadio is not injured anymore. Is he 100 per cent fit? That’s different, but he is on a good way and yesterday he looked really good. We will have to see what we do. If you see Sadio training, you are like, ‘OK…maybe we can use him!’ and maybe that’s the same for Senegal.
“He has to go there, then he has a few days’ training and if they can get the points they need [in the first game] then maybe we can talk again and ask them is it necessary [for him] to play the second game so he could come back. That would be the ideal situation but we cannot decide it; FIFA does not give the clubs the opportunity to decide when players play for their countries. They are clear rules and we respect them.
“In this specific case, it is good for his rhythm. I have no problem with our players playing for their national teams, it’s only that we need to know as much as possible about the circumstances, what they do in training and stuff like this. That’s really important for us.
“The games are always on different pitches, different surfaces, but the intensities are similar – but the training is different and that’s what I would love to have more influence on in the future. Not to tell them how to train, only to know about and react about. In Europe that is easier to be honest, but that’s how it is and it is no problem again.
“If Sadio can play I really think he should because it is good to get some rhythm, otherwise he would not have played for I don’t know how many weeks with the red card and then the injury. Then we play Southampton so it would be nice if he is in a kind of a rhythm.
“The injury risk is always there, even in training we cannot avoid that. I have no problem with him going to Senegal, but maybe we can talk again.”