Liverpool’s uneven start to the 2016-17 season has made a few things clear. First, Sadio Mané is a fantastic player who will be counted on to provide a cutting edge in attack with his pace and drive. And second, that Emre Can is integral to Liverpool’s midfield being able to function consistently to a high standard.
Take away either player, and the early signs are that Liverpool’s game will suffer more even than if the likes of Philippe Coutinho or Roberto Firmino are out, or if captain Jordan Henderson is unavailable. It’s a long season, and things might change, but right now, Mané and Can look Liverpool’s two key players.
Which means news of Mané being fit to face Leicester earlier in the week after a scare while on international duty was greeted sighs of relief from Liverpool fans. And it means that Jürgen Klopp admitting Can wouldn’t be fit to face them at his pre-match press conference today will be greeted with sighs of disappointment.
In other injury news, Ragnar Klavan picked up a knee injury over the international break that means he won’t be able to play—which means Dejan Lovren and Joël Matip the unquestioned starting duo, likely with Lucas Leiva backing them up. Mamadou Sakho, despite being a fan favourite, remains out of the picture.
“We have to make Mama fit now,” was Klopp’s reaction when faced with questions about Sakho’s availability and his place in the squad following attempts to shift him out on loan towards the end of the summer transfer window—though the manager went on to insist that Sakho wouldn’t be frozen out this season.
In other injury news, Sheyi Ojo remains out as he recovers from a cracked vertebrae, and Marko Grujic will be a late decision ahead of Saturday’s match.