Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp is awaiting further scans after Mohamed Salah’s Africa Cup of Nations fitness blow — but admits the forward was “shocked” by his in-game injury.
The 31-year-old scored a 97th-minute penalty to help Egypt stumble to a 2-2 draw in their opening clash against Mozambique but found himself on the fringes of the action against Ghana on Thursday.
Salah touched the ball just 17 times during his 45 minutes on the pitch, failing to attempt a single shot or create any changes. The forward went off visibly frustrated in the second minute of first-half stoppage time, just moments before Mohammed Kudus put Ghana 1-0 up in an eventual 2-2 draw.
“We don’t know yet what is the problem. I hope it is not a big problem,” Egypt coach Rui Vitoria said after the match. “Now, I don’t know because it is early to see something. I think it is not dangerous but let’s see if Salah recovers.”
Of course, it won’t just be Vitoria sweating on Salah’s fitness. The Egyptian has been Liverpool’s top scorer in each of the last six seasons, registering at least 23 goals per season across all competitions during that time. His goals have helped the Reds win a number of major honours in recent years, including Premier League and Champions League titles.
Once an outright dribbling dynamo with Serie A giants Roma, Salah has evolved over the years to become a deadly force around the box, both in a goalscoring sense and in creating openings for his teammates.
This season alone, Salah is level with Erling Haaland atop the Premier League Golden Boot race with 14 goals, firing Liverpool to the top of the table, while he’s also joint-top of the assists charts with eight.
It’s only natural, then, that Klopp will be keeping a close eye on Salah’s progress and sweating on the fitness of his star forward.
“We will see. It depends on the diagnostics. We will have ultrasound and MRI and then we will know what it is and we will see and make plans, but it’s too early [at the moment],” Klopp told reporters at a press conference on Friday.
The German added: “We don’t know anything about it. I spoke with him last night and how it was. They are doing further assessments now and then we will know more.
“At that moment he was shocked and couldn’t see why he was hit by something so intense. You have these hamstring injuries in a different way. He felt it and we know how rarely Mo goes off, or needs to go off, so it is definitely something but I don’t have any more information right now.”
The Egyptian federation later announced: “The injury of Mo Salah with a strain in the hamstring muscle will cause him to miss two matches in the Africa Cup of Nations against Cape Verde and in the Round of 16 in the case of qualification.”
Egypt’s chances of going one better than 2021 and winning the tournament for a record eighth time — but first since 2010 — will obviously be hampered considerably with Salah not on the field for the next two matches.
Liverpool, meanwhile, will have planned for life without Salah in the short term due to Afcon, but they’ll certainly hope his injury isn’t aggravated to become a long-term one. Klopp’s side are top of the Premier League table right now, but only have a slender two-point lead over defending champions Manchester City, while Aston Villa, Arsenal and Tottenham all remain in the hunt.
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