Liverpool forward Sadio Mane is hoping to resume running next week as he steps up his recovery from the injury that ended his impressive 2016-17 season prematurely.
The Senegalese international, signed from Southampton last summer for a cool £34m ($44m) fee, underwent surgery last month on a damaged meniscus in his left knee suffered in a collision with Leighton Baines during the second half of a derby victory over Everton. Such a blow ended a hugely promising maiden campaign on Merseyside in which he scored 13 goals and provided eight assists in 29 appearances across all competitions.
Mane's status as Jurgen Klopp's most influential player – embellished by Liverpool's failure to win any of their matches that coincided with his January stint at the Africa Cup of Nations – was further highlighted on Tuesday evening (9 May) as the 25-year-old sealed a Player of the Season and Players' Player of the Season double.
Providing an update on his progress after that annual awards bash held in Anfield's new Main Stand, Mane told the official Liverpool website: "I am getting better and I want to thank all of the physios for doing a great job – not just with me, they're always doing a great job. Hopefully next week I will start running, jogging, so I am happy and looking forward to it."
On his double prize win, he added: "It is a big honour for me to win these trophies, especially with all of the great players in the dressing room. I want to thank everybody, all the fans who have voted for me, and I'm very happy.
"[The Players' Player of the Season award] means so much for me because it is the players in the dressing room who voted for me and I want to thank them. I have been learning a lot from the manager, the coaches and my teammates. That's been the key."
Liverpool, seeking to secure a top-four finish, have won three, drawn two and lost one of their last six matches without Mane. The Reds rose to third last weekend despite James Milner missing a second-half penalty in a turgid stalemate against Southampton, although Manchester City, Manchester United and Arsenal all currently boast games in hand.
While Mane has been lost for the remainder of the season, Klopp insists is "too early to say" if captain Jordan Henderson will play any part in either of the final two matches of the year against West Ham United and relegated Middlesbrough. The England midfielder has missed three months due to a lingering foot issue and his manager does not know when he he might be in a position to return to training.