In what will no doubt come as a huge relief to everyone connected with Liverpool, Jurgen Klopp has dismissed fears Sadio Mane sustained an injury upon his return to domestic action in the 1-1 Premier League draw against Chelsea.
The highly-rated winger, a £34m ($42.9m) summer arrival from Southampton, flew back to Merseyside from Gabon on Monday (30 January) after missing the pivotal penalty for Senegal in their Africa Cup of Nations quarter-final defeat to Cameroon. Following that loss, Klopp insisted that he would have to "look in [Mane's] eyes" before making any decision over availability and promptly named the 24-year-old on the bench for last night's deadline day clash with the top-flight leaders at Anfield.
Mane did eventually feature for the final 15 minutes against Chelsea after replacing Philippe Coutinho, but fears over a possible fitness issue grew before that when television cameras appeared to show him having some sort of ice or heat pack applied to his left knee following a warm-up. That understandably caused a great deal of panic among Liverpool supporters, although Klopp has been reassured by the player that it is simply part of his usual recovery routine.
"I didn't ask until now but when he came into the dressing room, I saw I don't know exactly what it was, but I had a look at it and said, 'Oh my God, what's happened?' 'All good, all good' [Mane said]," the manager was quoted as saying after the match by Liverpool's official website. "Recovery prevention – cold, hot [packs]. I didn't ask until now, but there are no problems."
Another incident that took place during an entertaining battle between Liverpool and Chelsea, which has drawn subsequent attention, involved Klopp yelling in the face of fourth official Neil Swarbrick after watching Simon Mignolet save a second-half Diego Costa penalty that, had it hit the back of the net, would have extended the hosts' run of consecutive home defeats to four for the first time in 94 years.
"I turned to him and said: 'Nobody can beat us," he explained, as per The Guardian. "Obviously that is absolutely not true but that's what I said in this moment. I went back to the fourth official and said: 'Sorry – you are the wrong person to speak to.' He said: 'No problem, I like your passion.' I have never heard that from an official before. That was cool."
Following that draw with Chelsea, in which Georginio Wijnaldum's close-range header cancelled out a sublime 25-yard free-kick from David Luiz that left Mignolet and his wall red-faced, Liverpool remain 10 points behind Chelsea in fourth and have now won just one of their nine matches across all competitions in 2017. They visit relegation-threatened Hull City next before fixtures against Tottenham Hotspur, Leicester City and Arsenal.