A little over a week ago, with Salah sat on the turf - his head bowed - during Egypt's cruch game with Ghana, we all knew something was wrong. Initial reports said he had a small muscle strain, and would need 10-14 days to recover. Sadly, the news coming out of Liverpool and the Egyptian FA today, means that Salah will be missing for much longer than anyone first hoped.
Speaking at Liverpool's press conference earlier today, Assistant Manager, Pep Ljinders, gave a detailed update on the situation,
"Let me first say [that] the one you should never doubt the commitment of [is] Mo Salah. I never met a guy, a player but also a human being, who is more committed to the life of being a professional football player. I know the country is devastated losing him. We were devastated to hear that he got injured. He plays the first game, scores, assists, captain, massive importance of course. But the only reason why our medical team and their medical team decided for him to come back is to give him the best possible chance to be available in the final, if Egypt reaches the final."
"I think because of the first message what came out, that it will be probably only a few days, one week. But then they made a detailed scan and it came out that it was a proper tear in his hamstring. So it means his expected return to play is between three to four weeks if everything goes smooth and everything goes right. Mo knowing it will go smooth and it will go right because how he's treated his body before. But yeah, how I said before, what I'm really happy about [is] that the medical team of Egypt and the medical team of Liverpool Football Club really worked together and were really in close contact, and they both made this decision."
"It's an example of how international football with club football should cooperate – to put the player in the centre and not the targets of everyone, because it's a conflict of interest. How it works now is that all of us made the decision what's best for him, and for him the best decision is a stable environment, knowing the people, having people who are committed, have time to focus on his rehab process. We know how it can go from here in this facility."
Liverpool attackers will need to step up again....
A lot was said before the African Cup of Nations began, about how much Liverpool would miss Salah, but in his absense, Liverpool's other attackers have stepped up brilliantly, with Jota and Nunez in particular, leading the line and scoring goals.
With the news that Salah may be out until mid-February at the earliest, Jota, Diaz, Nunez and co. will need to keep up their good form, and provide the goals for Liverpool to keep progressing on all four fronts.
Thankfully, Jurgen Klopp has a lot of attacking options at his disposal, and whilst Salah's absense weakens the team (as it would any team in the league), it also gives other players the chance to step up. Jota and Nunez have already done so admirably in the last couple of games, whilst Gakpo, Diaz and Gravenberch can all add another dimension if required.
Salah's absense will also give Klopp the chance to develop a new 'right hand side' of the team. Salah and Alexander-Arnold have worked well together on Liverpool's right for many seasons. When Szoboszlai or Elliott play on the right of midfield, they too have a great understanding with Salah. Klopp will now likely play Gakpo or Jota down the right, whilst Conor Bradley has been playing at right back in Alexander-Arnolds absense. Understandably, the connection between Bradley, Elliott, Jota and Gakpo is not as strong, as they simply haven't played together as much. The next few weeks will give them the chance to play together more regularly, and develop a better understanding. This will greatly benefit Liverpool in the long-run, as Jota, Gakpo, Elliott and Bradley will hopefully be at Liverpool for the next four or five seasons, and will become the regular starters down the right hand side.
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... About The Author ...
Peter Farrell - Editor and Chief Article Writer, LFC - Back On Our Perch
Articles written by Author :: 348
Lifelong fan with a passion for all things Liverpool. First memory of football is watching John Barnes score a dramatic last minute equaliser in the FA Cup when he was 4. Feels lucky to be a part of the 'Klopp' era.
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