Liverpool striker Sadio Mane is expected to return from injury ahead of schedule, having been included in the Senegal squad for the World Cup qualifiers against South Africa next month. The 25-year-old had been ruled out for six weeks after suffering a hamstring problem during the last international break and was expected to see him miss as many as 11 games for club and country.
The Teranga Lions need two points to secure passage to Russia next summer and face the 2010 hosts home and away in the climax to the CAF qualifying section on 10 and 14 November. Mane has already missed two games for the Reds – the draw with Manchester United and record Champions League win over Maribor – and was not expected to be available until the end of next month.
But according to his country Mane has already resumed training with Liverpool and will ramp up his recovery in the coming days in preparation for a return for the pivotal double-header.
"In my mind, there is no doubt he will be us for the double header against South Africa and that he will be 100% fit," said Senegal coach Aliou Cisse, according to BBC Sport. "Until now, he has just been doing some individual training – running in straight lines – but from next week, he is going to train harder and start working with the ball."
Though Senegal expect Mane to be available to face Bafana Bafana next month, there is no indication as to when Liverpool can expect him to return to the first team. The Merseysiders were initially expecting him to miss six weeks of action, which would have seen him absent for nine club games in all.
That run was expected to include this weekend's trip to Tottenham Hotspur, the visit to West Ham United and home game against Chelsea; matches that come either side of the upcoming international fortnight.
Jurgen Klopp is expected to be questioned regarding the claim when he faces the media to preview the trip to Tottenham on Sunday (22 October). Liverpool will be aiming to improve on a run of one league win in their last five games and close the gap on Spurs, which is already four points.