Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has blamed Sadio Mane for injury concerns after the winger was seen with an ice pack on his leg early in the second half.
Klopp withdrew all three of Mane, Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino at the same time, quickly suggesting it was a planned withdrawal, especially with Liverpool leading the way. However, Mane expressed concern by treating the injury off the ice.
Mane was replaced after an hour in Amsterdam/ANP Sport/Getty Images.
Liverpool already have a number of key players, with Alisson, Virgil van Dijk and Thiago missing for the game in Amsterdam. The latter was the victim of careless tackling during the Merseyside derby a fortnight ago and Van Dijk in particular could miss the rest of the season.
Losing Mane to injury would have been another major blow for the reigning Premier League champions, despite keeping Diogo Jota and Takumi Minamino in the reserves. But Klopp insists there is nothing to worry about as it is little more than a dead leg.
“Sadio’s leg has been dead for a few days and he deals with it in that area. That’s why it’s still sore but it’s not a problem. When he doesn’t play, he puts ice on it, ” the Liverpool boss explained in the post-match press briefing.
It was Mane’s curling shot that led directly to Ajax left-back Nicolas Tagliafico inadvertently deflecting the ball into his own net, the only goal of the first half that ultimately proved decisive.
Discussing his decision to withdraw three of his starting forwards at once at a relatively early point in the game, Klopp said it was down to the intensity of the competition. With the games coming thick and fast in this tight season, resting players at every opportunity will be crucial.
All being well, Mane should be fit to face Sheffield United at Anfield on Saturday, although a favorable run could give Klopp the chance to rotate his squad once again. Liverpool then return to Champions League action next Tuesday when they host Danish side FC Midtjylland.
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