Jurgen Klopp has calmed fears over the fitness of Sadio Mane and Jordan Henderson after the pair were withdrawn during Liverpool’s 1-0 defeat to Atletico Madrid on Tuesday.
The defending European champions were kept at bay by a stubborn and rugged Los Colchoneros performance, with the Reds failing to register a single shot on target during the round-of-16 first leg.
Mane and Henderson still ready to go? Five things to know…
- Mane and Henderson were both substituted during Liverpool’s 1-0 UCL defeat to Atleti.
- But Klopp has revealed he was more worried about Mane picking up a red card.
- And he also said Henderson’s withdrawal was a precaution after feeling something in his hamstring.
- The Reds’ second leg against Diego Simeone’s side is on March 11 at Anfield.
- Liverpool are currently a massive 25 points clear atop the Premier League table.
With a second leg at Anfield still to come, the tie is far from over but Liverpool fans were left sweating after star forward Mane was withdrawn at half-time — the Senegal international only just returned to fitness in time to score the winning goal in a 1-0 win over Norwich City at the weekend.
However, Klopp has now revealed he decided to withdraw Mane to protect him from suspension, with the ex-Southampton man locked in an intense duel with Atleti right-back Sime Vrsaljko.
“I was afraid that his opponent would go down even if Sadio took a deep breath,” the German said. “I didn’t want to have that situation, so that is why we took him off.”
Liverpool captain Henderson was also substituted during the second half but although his withdrawal was, indeed, due to a hamstring injury, Klopp says he and the England international were merely acting out of precaution.
“Jordan Henderson felt his hamstring, unfortunately,” he said. “He was not too concerned, but it was enough to come off, obviously.”
Liverpool’s second leg against Atleti is on March 11. Before that, they face Premier League fixtures against West Ham, Watford and Bournemouth, as well as an FA Cup tie against Chelsea.