Jürgen Klopp: Liverpool to monitor Sadio Mane before deciding whether winger will return against Chelsea

Jürgen Klopp: Liverpool to monitor Sadio Mane before deciding whether winger will return against Chelsea

Jürgen Klopp says Liverpool will wait to make a decision on Sadio Mane, who will return to Merseyside a day later than initially planned after Africa Cup of Nations duty, to see if he will play against Chelsea at Anfield on Tuesday night.

Charlie Malam

Jürgen Klopp says he will judge Sadio Mane's physical and psychological shape before deciding whether the returning winger will feature in Liverpool's clash with Chelsea on Tuesday.

The 24-year-old's Senegal were eliminated from the Africa Cup of Nations at the quarter-final stage by Cameroon on Saturday night, Mane missing his country's crucial fifth and final spot-kick. 

He was visibly dejected afterwards, needing help leaving the pitch, but the Reds were keen for their joint-top goalscorer to make a quick return as they chartered a private jet to fly him back on Sunday.

Klopp revealed that flight was delayed, meaning he could only take off and return to Merseyside on Monday as Liverpool prepare for a season-defining Anfield clash with league leaders Chelsea, who are 10 points ahead of them in the Premier League table.

Reports over the weekend suggested that Mane could be handed a place on the substitutes' bench against the Blues, but Klopp says he must first decide whether the player is fit enough, and mentally prepared, to be involved.

Klopp: Mane will train on Tuesday and then we'll see how fit he is

Speaking on Monday afternoon, Klopp said that he didn't know "exactly" what fitness Mane is in but praised the club's administrative staff and team management's "outstanding job to bring him back as soon as possible."

"Actually we thought it would be possible yesterday," Klopp continued on Mane's return, insisting that they "had the plan there" but Mane "was not allowed" to fly and so they "had to wait to bring the plane from A to B."

The German declared that now it is "all good" and Mane will return on Monday night "at some point" and then they "have to see" whether he can be in contention to play within 24 hours.

Klopp said that he spoke personally to Mane and that it is "all good so far" and they will "have to make a decision" upon seeing him train at Melwood on Monday morning.

He admitted: "In this moment, I've no idea [whether or not Mane will play]. I have to look in his eyes, see whatever is possible with him and then make a decision."

Mane 'back at least for Hull', says Klopp

Klopp admitted to having mixed emotions after watching the Reds' No.19 play for Senegal in Gabon, where he scored two in two games in the group stages.

But though he insisted he never once wished for Mane and Senegal to be eliminated so he could return to the club, Klopp acknowledged that having him back again is good news for Liverpool.

The Reds boss lauded the wide-man as "a quality player" who makes it "easier if you have him in the team" or at a minimum "around the team."

But he continued: "I think that's fair, but it's not that he can decide games by himself or we should expect this [that he can]. It was a strange situation in the Senegal game against Cameroon. I wished not for a second that he would miss the penalty, but at the end it happened."

Klopp described Mane as "kind of an option" for Chelsea and reiterated that they "have to see" but said that he's "back at least for the Hull City game" which is "of course good for us."

"We have a very good player back for selection, that's good news, nothing else," further stated Klopp, who spoke again of how his side "came through December and a bit of January without Philippe Coutinho." 

He said that they "spoke already about a few reasons why it was not that good in January" but added that Liverpool shouldn't "think too much about the last games now" because "there's enough work to do to think about the next games."

He said that Mane is "back tonight hopefully" and then said the club's staff "have to decide how we can involve him for tomorrow somehow or not" before adding that otherwise "everything is like it was before he left."