Mohamed Salah will return to Liverpool on Wednesday as part of his rehab following a muscle injury; the club says it is “worse than first feared” while Pep Lijnders confirms the forward suffered a “proper tear in his hamstring”; Salah was subbed during Egypt’s draw with Ghana on Thursday
Liverpool assistant manager Pep Lijnders says he has never met anyone more committed to being a professional footballer than Mo Salah – and the reason he came home was to give him the best chance of reaching the AFCON final if Egypt make it
Mohamed Salah’s injury is “worse than first feared” as a scan revealed a “proper tear in his hamstring” which could keep the Liverpool forward out of action for nearly a month.
Salah was initially ruled out for just two games by Egypt after sustaining the muscle injury in their 2-2 draw with Ghana last Thursday at the Africa Cup of Nations.
But Salah will now return to Liverpool on Wednesday to begin an “intensive rehabilitation programme” after an agreement was reached between the Premier League club and the Egyptian FA.
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Egypt scored in added time to go ahead before Cape Verde equalised with the last kick of the game, but Ghana conceded twice in added time too against Mozambique to ensure Salah’s AFCON dream remains alive!
Salah’s agent Ramy Abbas first revealed the 31-year-old is set to spend several weeks on the sidelines and Liverpool assistant manager Pep Lijnders confirmed the news at a press conference on Tuesday.
“Because of the first message that came out that it would only be a few days, or a week, a detailed scan was then made and it showed a proper tear in his hamstring,” Lijnders said.
“His expected return will be between three and four weeks if everything goes right.”
Salah was in the stands on Monday to watch Egypt scrape into the last 16 of AFCON after a 2-2 draw with Cape Verde.
Liverpool said his return to England for treatment will give him the best chance possible of flying back to Ivory Coast for the latter stages of the tournament should Egypt make further progress.
Liverpool club statement
“The injury, which is worse than first feared, forced the forward from the field in the first half of the Africa Cup of Nations fixture with Ghana and an agreement has been reached with the Egyptian FA for Salah to undergo treatment in Liverpool.
“Salah will immediately begin work with the club’s medical staff upon his return to Merseyside with a view to being back in action as soon as possible for club and country, giving him the best chance to return to compete at AFCON if Egypt, who qualified for the knockout stage with a 2-2 draw against Cape Verde tonight, continue to advance in the tournament.”
‘I didn’t think it was right’ – Egypt boss criticises Klopp
Speaking after Liverpool’s 4-0 win over Bournemouth on Sunday, which moved them five points clear at the top of the Premier League, Reds manager Jurgen Klopp said “it makes sense” for Salah to complete his rehab with “our people”.
But Klopp’s comments irritated Egypt boss Rui Vitoria, who criticised the German for discussing Salah’s fitness before Monday’s AFCON match with Cape Verde.
“I want to take this opportunity to clarify things,” Vitoria said at his post-match press conference.
“Mohamed Salah has an injury, which we learned before this game was a longer-term injury than we first thought, so we have had to prolong the amount of time before he can play again.
Egypt manager Rui Vitoria has hit out at Liverpool for suggesting that Salah would be returning home after picking up an injury during AFCON
“Before the game we did not want to say anything. Meanwhile, everything was in the control of our excellent medical team.
“Given we were going to have to travel, given the temperatures, given that we were going to be going to a different city, maybe it makes sense that Salah should have a place he can go to recover as quickly as possible.
“We didn’t want to alarm anyone. I didn’t think it was right for Liverpool, via any intermediary, to speak about this, because we had a tremendously important game.
“Salah has always been with us. Now this game is over we will find the best solution for the treatment of the player. These are the facts. This is the situation.”
Lijnders defends Salah’s ‘commitment’
Salah’s departure from Egypt’s camp and return to England has been criticised by some pundits and former players.
Four-time AFCON winner Ahmed Hassan believes Salah, as captain, should remain with his country under any circumstance and should have brought a member of Liverpool’s medical staff with him to the tournament.
But speaking ahead of Wednesday’s Carabao Cup semi-final second leg against Fulham, live on Sky Sports, Liverpool assistant Lijnders defended the decision.
Image: Salah receives medical treatment during the African Cup of Nations
“The one you should never doubt the commitment of is Mo Salah,” Lijnders said.
“I never met a guy, a player but also a human being, who is more committed to the life of being a professional football player.
“I know the country is devastated to lose him. We were devastated to hear he got injured.
“He played the first game, scores, assists, [he’s] captain and massively important, of course, but the only reason our medical team and their medical team decided for him to come back is to give the best possible chance to be available if Egypt make the final.
“What I’m really happy about is the medical team of Egypt and Liverpool worked together, were really in close contact and they made this decision together.
“It is an example of how international football and club football should co-operate to put the player in the centre and not the targets of everyone because it is a conflict of interest.
“All of us made the decision which is best for him and for him the best is having a stable environment, knowing the people and having people who are committed and have the time to focus on his rehab process and we know how it will go here in this facility.”
Next Liverpool and Egypt fixtures
The Football Show panel look at the Liverpool games Salah could miss and explain why losing his creativity could be a problem for Jurgen Klopp
Jan 24: Fulham vs Liverpool, Carabao Cup semi-final, second leg – live on Sky Sports
Jan 28: Liverpool vs Norwich, FA Cup
Jan 28: Egypt vs Group F second place, AFCON round of 16, kick-off 8pm, live on Sky Sports
Jan 31: Liverpool vs Chelsea, Premier League
Feb 4: Arsenal vs Liverpool, Premier League – live on Sky Sports
Feb 10: Liverpool vs Burnley, Premier League