Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp admitted he would be happy for Mohamed Salah and Wataru Endo’s international absences to be kept to a minimum as his side begin their fight on three fronts in January.
Salah is away with Egypt in the African Nations Cup, while Japan captain Endo is at the Asian Cup and both players are expected to go deep into the respective competitions.
That could mean a return in the second week of February but Klopp said he sent them on their way this week without wishing them too much success.
“I said if I wish you good luck it would be a lie,” he said ahead of the FA Cup tie at Arsenal.
“From a personal point of view, I would be happy if they go out in the group stage but that’s probably not possible. They can go on and win it.
“So it was ‘good luck and come back healthy’. We have to deal with it and we will deal with it. I am pretty positive that we will find a way.”
It is impossible to have a like-for-like replacement for Salah as he is one of a kind but Klopp does not really have a suitable player in the right-winger mould to take his place.
Midfielder Dominik Szoboszlai was touted as a potential option but he has been ruled out for at least two matches with a hamstring injury sustained in the New Year’s Day win over Newcastle.
“I can confirm it’s not a potential injury – it is an injury. Muscle, hamstring. But now we have to see,” added Klopp.
“Dom is very positive, doesn’t have a lot of pain but we have to wait a little bit. So, no chance obviously for Sunday, not for Wednesday (the Carabao Cup semi-final first leg at home to Fulham).
“And then we will see. After that, hopefully he might be back but we don’t know.”
Nevertheless Klopp was confident Liverpool could fill the hole left by Salah, even if he could not hope to replicate the Egypt international’s goal involvement.
“I think we played against West Ham (in last month’s Carabao Cup quarter-final) without Mo on that side and Harvey Elliott played there,” he said.
“We have different offensive options who can all play that wing in a different way.
“Nobody else can play like Mo, it is not possible – we just have to use the boys with their skills.
“Do we want to play without Mo? No. In the past we didn’t have to do it often but we always found a way.
“But we play Arsenal and you can lose to Arsenal with Mo Salah so it’s possible to lose to them without him.”