Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp insists his side do not have a direct replacement for forward Sadio Mane, who is set to start a lengthy spell out of the first team against Bournemouth on Wednesday (5 April). The Senegal international limped off after 57 minutes of the 3-1 Merseyside derby win over Everton with an ankle injury, following a tangle of legs with Leighton Baines.
Mane initially tried to play on but was unable to put pressure on the afflicted area, forcing his early withdrawal prior to the hour mark. The 24-year-old had opened the scoring for the Reds with his 13th goal of the season in the first half, but his afternoon was cut short by an injury - the severity of which is yet to be fully determined.
Adam Lallana has already been ruled out for four weeks due to a thigh injury suffered on international duty with England. Liverpool have a six-point cushion with eight games to go in the race for a Champions League spot and Klopp concedes the club have no direct replacement for the injured Mane.
"We can cope with his absence [Mane] but we don't have a one-for-one replacement," he said, according to the Liverpool Echo. "That is the truth and hopefully Daniel Sturridge can be available. Trent [Alexander-Arnold] was brought in [on Saturday], [we have] Ben Woodburn. If [Mane's] injured that it is not cool and that is why I don't feel 100% happy. Now we have three days to find 'the solution' but we don't have a one-on-one replacement."
A scan on Monday will likely reveal for how long Mane will be sidelined, though his absence may be covered by the return of Daniel Sturridge. The former Chelsea and Manchester City forward has not played for Liverpool in the top flight for nearly two months due to illness and a hip injury, but having returned to training last month could be considered for a start at Anfield.
Injuries have proven crucial to Liverpool's fortunes this season, with captain Jordan Henderson still out with a foot problem and the likes of Philippe Coutinho and Dejan Lovren missing swathes of the campaign. The Croatian defender insists that had it not been for a string of fitness problems, the Merseysiders would be at the summit of the Premier League.
"Listen, it is important. If you don't have injuries, you will be in the place of Chelsea. Chelsea have not had one injury I do not think,'' he said. "Sometimes you need to be lucky in football, but we also played [against Everton] without Henderson and Lallana who are massive players for us, but we showed we can play against everyone with other players.''