Liverpool have been dealt a huge blow just days before the visit of arch-rivals Manchester United after Sadio Mane was ruled out for six weeks with a hamstring injury.
The pacy forward was injured on international duty with Senegal and his absence could not have come at a worse time as manager Jurgen Klopp looks to get their season back on track after an indifferent September.
“The winger was substituted 89 minutes into Senegal’s 2-0 World Cup qualifying win over the Cape Verde Islands on Saturday,” said a Liverpool statement.
“And it has now been confirmed that he picked up an injury during that fixture that could keep him out of action for up to six weeks.”
Mane, who scored 13 Premier League goals last season despite missing the whole of January due to the African Nations Cup and the final six weeks of the campaign with a knee injury, has three in four league matches so far.
More frustration for Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp
Mane has endured a difficult last six months after a brilliant start to his Anfield career.
He tore the meniscus in a knee during April’s Merseyside derby which prematurely ended his season and required surgery.
Having worked hard in pre-season to get back to fitness the forward began the campaign with three goals in his first four appearances before a red card at Manchester City on September 9 resulted in a three-match ban and halted his progress.
Since his debut in August 2016 Liverpool average 2.2 Premier League goals with Mane in the team, compared to 1.6 goals in his absence.
When he went to the African Nations Cup in January, Liverpool won just once in seven matches in all competitions.
They coped better when his knee injury ruled him out in early April, with five wins, two draws and a defeat and the arrivals of Mohamed Salah and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain were supposed to add more depth to their attacking options and lessen the blow of losing him again.
Salah has scored six in 11 games this season, making him the club’s leading scorer, but Oxlade-Chamberlain’s chances have been few and far between having joined on deadline day.