Liverpool fans who have spent the past decade watching the club and keeping track of its many internationals may well remember the at times acrimonious relationship that developed between the powers that be at Anfield and in the Spanish football federation over the management of striker Fernando Torres.
In the later stages of his Liverpool career, it felt like every time he headed off on international duty he would pick up a knock, missing a few weeks or a month and returning in time to be called back up. And, too often, to pick up another injury. For many, the poor management of his injuries were at the root of his decline.
For those who remember Torres’ injury mismanagement, news that Sadio Mané was today called up by Senegal for their games in November while their manager saying they expect him to be ready to play despite a belief at Anfield he will not be fully fit by then will be an unwelcome reminder of that.
"In my mind there's no doubt he will be with us for the double header against South Africa and that he will be 100% fit,” said manager Aliou Cisse. "Until now, he has just been doing some individual training, running in straight lines, but from next week he is going to train harder and start working with the ball.”
Senegal play their CAF third round World Cup qualifier on November 10th and 14th, a two-legged tie against South Africa, and there is no doubt Mané’s presence could make the difference for their chances to make it to the 2018 World Cup in Russia next summer. Long-term, though, it might not be good for Mané.
Having been injured while on duty with them against Cape Verde on October 7th, Liverpool made it known on his return to the club that they expected him to miss at least six weeks—setting a return date of November 18th at the earliest based on the date of his injury, or the 22nd based on when he returned to the club.
Mané may be fit enough, barely, to take part against South Africa. There’s a chance five weeks, or just slightly less than that, will be enough. Yet it seems premature—and potentially damaging—to call him up today and to insist with 100% certainty that he will play for Senegal on the 10th and 14th of November.