Liverpool forward Xherdan Shaqiri is facing a battle to be ready for the start of the season after manager Jurgen Klopp revealed he would be sidelined for “a while”.
Shaqiri is still carrying a calf injury sustained on international duty with Switzerland in their Nations League defeat to England on June 9.
The former Stoke player returned to the club’s Melwood training ground this week and assessment by medical staff has given Klopp a headache as he steps up his pre-season preparations.
“Shaq is still injured from the national team and it will take a while until he is in again,” Klopp told liverpoolfc.com.
“He has a tear in his calf, so he will not be involved for a while.”
The 27-year-old, a £13 million buy last summer, has plenty to prove to Klopp after fading in the second half of their Champions League-winning campaign.
Having enjoyed a two-month, nine-match purple patch from late October – in which he scored six goals – he fell out of favour in 2019.
Shaqiri made just 11 appearances after the turn of the year, only four of which were starts.
His current absence leaves Klopp short in attacking options with the returns of Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah (Africa Cup of Nations) and Roberto Firmino (Copa America) all delayed due to their involvement in international tournaments this summer.
Champions League hero Divock Origi – now in the final year of his contract with a new deal offered but not yet signed – is the manager’s only senior forward after the departure of Daniel Sturridge.
Youngster Rhian Brewster will be part of the first-team squad full-time this season after recovering from serious ankle and knee injuries while Harry Wilson, who impressed on loan at Derby, will get a chance in pre-season.
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Senegal advanced to the Africa Cup of Nations quarter-finals with a 1-0 victory over Uganda courtesy of Sadio Mane’s 15th minute strike – the Liverpool striker also missed a second-half penalty during the match in Cairo on Friday.
This eventful display for the Liverpool superstar caused some reflection in the post-match interview.
He said: They gave me three chances, and I’ve missed two times. That’s not a good ratio.”
See his full reaction above:
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.