Mohamed Salah ready for Liverpool start as Manchester United clash looms, says Jurgen Klopp

Mohamed Salah ready for Liverpool start as Manchester United clash looms, says Jurgen Klopp

Mohamed Salah is ready to start a game for Liverpool for only the second time this calendar year, Jurgen Klopp has confirmed.

Not since the 4-2 home Premier League win over Newcastle on New Year’s Day has the Egyptian forward started a match for his club, having initially gone away to the Africa Cup of Nations in Ivory Coast, where he sustained a hamstring injury that kept him sidelined for a month.

Salah spent a further three weeks in the treatment room, missing the Carabao Cup final win over Chelsea as a result, after suffering muscle fatigue following his goalscoring comeback off the bench at Brentford last month, though has made further substitute’s cameos against both Sparta Prague and Manchester City in the last week.

Liverpool face the Czech giants again at Anfield on Thursday night, having surely already booked their place in the Europa League quarter-finals after a 5-1 first-leg demolition in Prague last week.

With progression already assured barring an absolute disaster, Klopp is likely to pick his Reds team for the second leg with Sunday’s FA Cup quarter-final showdown with fierce rivals Manchester United in mind.

He confirmed in Wednesday’s pre-match press conference that Salah was now in a position to start, but said he was unsure if he was able to play a full 90 minutes as things stand, or if it would be wise to demand it of him.

“It’s possible it would have been possible for him to play longer in the last game, but it was just the game, how it was,” Klopp said, referring to Sunday’s pulsating 1-1 home draw with title rivals Manchester City.

Mohamed Salah has started just one match for Liverpool so far in 2024 (Action Images via Reuters)
Mohamed Salah has started just one match for Liverpool so far in 2024 (Action Images via Reuters)

“It’s important that we build up Mo, obviously super-important, but in this game changing at half-time was not necessary or possible [because] we have to deal with changes carefully.

“So, yeah, he is ready. He is top fit, everything is good now and we don’t have to deal with these kind of things anymore. I’m not sure if he is ready for 90 minutes and I’m not sure we should do 90 minutes, but he’s ready to start so that’s how it is.

“He would have been ready to start in the last game but then you don’t know for how long it makes sense and that’s always the problem when players come back.

“I can’t remember a game where I thought, ‘Mo Salah cannot play, no problem.’ It just never happened, so it’s not cool to not have him but there was a game last Sunday and there are 10 more Premier League games and hopefully a lot more cup and European games. They are all as important and Mo was completely fine with that.

“Would he have loved to play a little bit longer? Probably, yes, but I cannot before the game decide when we do what and these kind of things. But he’s ready to start.

“Should that then be 90 minutes on the pitch? That depends on how it looks in that moment but we all know Mo usually can play game after game after game after game.

“Now he was out for a surprisingly long time, but now he is back and we have to make sure that we can really count on him consistently again.”

Liverpool’s injury list remains extensive ahead of the matches against Sparta Prague and Manchester United, with the likes of Alisson Becker, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Curtis Jones, Ryan Gravenberch and Stefan Bajcetic not expected back in action until after the March international break.

Diogo Jota, Joel Matip and Thiago Alcantara are longer-term absentees, while youngster Jayden Danns could miss out again against Sparta after the effects of a heavy collision in the last-gasp 1-0 win at Nottingham Forest that saw him miss the first leg.

Ibrahima Konate is unlikely to be fit to feature on Thursday, but Klopp previously described him as having a “good chance” of shaking off an issue picked up in the first leg in Prague last week in time to face Manchester United.