Liverpool midfielder Naby Keita’s chances of rejoining his Guinea team-mates for any potential further Africa Cup of Nations involvement look slim.
The 24-year-old returned to Merseyside on Monday for assessment by club medical staff after appearing to aggravate the adductor muscle injury which ruled him out of the Champions League final.
He limped out of Guinea’s second match against Nigeria after 70 minutes and had to sit out the win over Burundi to keep alive their hopes of making the knockout stages.
His international side are in line to qualify as one of the best third-placed teams and if results go their way in the final group matches they would face Morocco on Friday.
However, PA understands with a prognosis on his condition not likely to be made until Wednesday his chances of returning in time should Guinea progress are not good.
Keita sustained the injury in the Champions League semi-final first leg in Barcelona and manager Jurgen Klopp said the player would be ruled out for two months.
However, Guinea coach Paul Put disputed this and insisted on the player reporting for duty with the team, although Klopp’s assessment appears to have been closer to the mark as Keita was not 100 per cent fit when coming on as a 62nd-minute substitute in their opening match against Madagasgar and he was then forced off against Nigeria.
Any additional setback would put Liverpool’s plans for Keita’s pre-season programme behind schedule.
His international duty meant he would not have returned when the majority of the squad report back on Saturday but if he is to be sidelined for longer then it will most likely mean he will not be ready for the start of the campaign at home to Norwich on August 9.
Keita’s first year in English football was littered with niggling injuries although it was hoped with a decent pre-season behind him he could bounce back stronger but injury on international duty has likely affected that.
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Sadio Mane made amends by scoring twice after missing an early penalty to see Senegal through to the knockout stage at the African Cup of Nations on Monday.
Mane netted in the 71st minute and got it right with his second penalty of the game in the 78th as Senegal beat Kenya 3-0 to take second in Group C and make the last 16.
Ismaila Sarr scored the first for Senegal in the 63rd, burying a volley in the top left corner as the team rated as a contender for the title took over an hour to break down Kenya in its must-win final group game at 30 June Stadium in Cairo.
Algeria, which had already qualified, won the group with a 3-0 win over Tanzania.
The Reds lost only one Premier League game last season but were pipped to the crown by a single point by Manchester City in a title race extraordinary for the consistency of the two contenders.
Lifting the Champions League trophy in Madrid made up for any disappointment, but Henry knows Liverpool fans are now desperate to enjoy domestic supremacy for the first time since 1990.
“To me winning in Europe is bigger than winning in England but I think it’s true the fans want it,” Henry told PA. “I know we’re going to be focused on winning the Premier League next year.”
Henry, in London to watch his Boston Red Sox face the New York Yankees in the first regular-season Major League Baseball games to be played in the UK, remained tight-lipped on any further transfer activity following the signing of teenage defender Sepp Van Den Berg.
“We need to get healthy,” he said when asked about ways to strengthen the squad. “We need AOC (Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain) back, we need a healthy (Adam) Lallana.
“It’s not up to me but I would guess we will see more of Divock (Origi) next year. I think he brings something special, he comes with power and speed and brings in scoring.
“I feel really good about next year.”
While the title race may have ended in disappointment, Henry said his team had every reason to be proud of their season.
“Our guys gave it their all from the first day of the season to the last,” he said. “It’s a long season, they played up to their capabilities and just gave so much effort.
“It didn’t matter who the opponent was, they out-ran every opponent and I felt they deserved to walk away with a trophy.
“We walked away with the biggest one so I’m very happy.”