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Mane set for Liverpool return in Premier League opener

The Senegal forward only returned to training with the Reds on Monday.

Sadio Mane, who is line for an early return against Norwich tomorrow night.
Sadio Mane, who is line for an early return against Norwich tomorrow night.

SADIO MANE IS in contention to start Liverpool’s Premier League opener against Norwich City, Jurgen Klopp has confirmed.

Liverpool get the new season under way on Friday when they host the winners of the Championship at Anfield.

Mane’s participation has been in doubt following his participation in the Africa Cup of Nations over the summer.

Mane played in the final for Senegal on 19 July as his side lost out to Algeria in Cairo, and missed Sunday’s Community Shield clash with Manchester City as he completed his holidays.

The former Southampton forward returned to training on Monday, and Klopp insists that Mane is being considered for a starting berth against the Canaries.

“He only had two weeks off, so you don’t lose anything – that is the good news at least!” he told a press conference.

“He looks fit. Yesterday was the first session with the team. He looks absolutely OK. Yes, he’s an option.”

Mane is not the only Liverpool player to have returned late to training ahead of the new campaign, with fellow forward Mohamed Salah and Naby Keita having also participated at AFCON for the hosts Egypt and Guinea, respectively, while Roberto Firmino and Alisson were both key in Brazil winning Copa America on home soil.

As such, Klopp has been forced to hand opportunities to fringe players during pre-season as well as experimenting with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Gini Wijnaldum as wide forwards in the absence of his normal front three.

And the Champions League-winning coach believes that will allow him some flexibility when it comes to selecting his team to face Daniel Farke’s newly-promoted outfit.

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“We have a lot of options, a lot of different line-ups. No player gave me a reason to leave him out, so we have hard decisions on a squad.

“It is not about playing the best football in history tomorrow. It is about playing the best football in this moment.

“We have to stay the team that nobody wants to play against because of that intensity.”

Klopp also confirmed that James Milner will be fit for Friday’s match having missed the Community Shield with a minor muscular injury.

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