Liverpool welcome back Sadio Mane for Chelsea visit but Jurgen Klopp warns: ‘He can’t decide games by himself’

Jurgen Klopp has warned that Liverpool cannot expect the returning Sadio Mane to end the worst run of his reign on his own.

Sadio Mane has been on international duty at the Africa Cup of Nations with Senegal. Liverpool won only one of the seven games he missed. Glyn Kirk / AFP
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Jurgen Klopp has warned that Liverpool cannot expect the returning Sadio Mane to end the worst run of his reign on his own.

Liverpool have lost three consecutive games for the first time under the German and have been eliminated from the League Cup and the FA Cup in the last week.

They host Premier League leaders Chelsea on Tuesday with Mane back in contention after the Africa Cup of Nations after Liverpool only won one of the seven games the winger missed.

Owners Fenway Sports Group paid for a private plane to bring him back after Senegal’s quarter-final defeat to Cameroon, where Mane missed the decisive penalty in the shootout, but it was not able to take off on Sunday.

“We have a very good player back for selection,” manager Klopp said. “I wish he hadn’t missed the penalty but he did and now he’s coming back. He’s an option for Chelsea. This is good news.

“He’s a quality player and it’s easier when you have him around the team. But you can’t expect him to decide games by himself.”


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In Mane’s absence, Roberto Firmino and Adam Lallana have both had to take up his usual position on the right.

Lallana, who missed Saturday’s 2-1 defeat to Wolverhamton Wanderers with a cut to his leg, could return but right-back Nathaniel Clyne seems likely to miss out, meaning 18-year-old Trent Alexander-Arnold could start.

“Lallana has trained, Clyney no,” Klopp said. “We have to assess it. We can’t force it.”

While Liverpool are 10 points behind Chelsea, Klopp has not given up hope of winning the title.

“A lot of people are thinking at the moment it is difficult for Liverpool — and it is difficult — but not impossible,” he said.

Liverpool beat Chelsea 2-1 at Stamford Bridge in September, one of two defeats that prompted Chelsea manager Antonio Conte to change formation and led to a run of 15 victories in 16 games.

Now he faces the reverse fixtures, with his side hosting Arsenal on Saturday. “The league doesn’t finish after these two games,” Conte said.

Conte was complimentary about Liverpool and argued their recent results owe much to misfortune.

“It’s difficult to explain,” he said. “I watched their games. I think they were unlucky. This is tough.”

Whereas Liverpool are unbeaten against sides in the top six this season, Chelsea have already suffered three defeats to their peers.

“When you face teams of the same level it’s important to win for confidence, but the difficulty is high,” Conte said.

He expects reserve goalkeeper Asmir Begovic, who is a target for Bournemouth, to be in his squad at Anfield. Chelsea, who have been linked with Celtic’s Craig Gordon, would need to sign a replacement if the Bosnian left.

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