No news on Mane injury as Klopp hails Minamino for 'big step' at Wolves

By Sports Desk January 24, 2020

Jurgen Klopp remains unsure about the severity of Sadio Mane's injury but hailed Takumi Minamino for his performance when replacing the Senegal star against Wolves.

Mane went off in the first half of Thursday's 2-1 victory at Molineux with a hamstring problem, with Japan international Minamino thrown on for his first experience of Premier League football.

Klopp was delighted with the 25-year-old's efforts in a battling win, secured by Jordan Henderson's header and Roberto Firmino's late strike, which came after a Raul Jimenez equaliser.

The Liverpool boss had no update on Mane's condition when speaking to reporters on Friday ahead of the FA Cup fourth-round trip to Shrewsbury Town, but he appeared confident Minamino could fill in where required.

"I think we have to think about exactly what we do now because he played yesterday much longer than we thought," Klopp said. "It was a big step for him – come on. A game like this for nobody on the pitch was a game where you have to shine and make your best game ever and stuff like this, as a new player, in this kind of a battle.

"Showing up like he did, not with his skills in different departments of the game, but with his character, mentality – he was fighting like crazy, closed gaps, was involved in a lot of situations – it was just a super start.

"It was not 100 per cent his position, he can play there, but for yesterday it was exactly what he had to do. That was much more important than the next game. We'll have to see how he reacted to the intensity of that game, but each game helps, for sure."

Klopp has been delighted with Minamino's application since he arrived in a reported £7.25million deal from Salzburg.

"He's exactly the player we expected to get," he said. "Super player, super boy, really. You saw so many things of his ability last night. As footballers, if you only play the days when everything is clicking, when you're scoring two goals, assisting two more… this, as I said, was a proper fight.

"He's completely ready for that and for him, still in a new environment, a new team, he's really adapting and from a tactical point of view it was an outstanding game. In training, we see more of the finishing stuff, creating stuff… he's just the player we wanted."

Klopp intends to rotate his team much as he did for the third-round win over Everton, with Adrian set to start in goal, but he fears the game will come too soon for Xherdan Shaqiri and James Milner to be involved.

"Adrian will be in goal, if he can," Klopp said. "For Shaq and Millie, it's too early; Naby [Keita], we'll have to see. My information is he will be part of training today. It's minus-two to the game so we have to see if he can be part of the session.

"We have a team, we'll have a team with fresh legs, we have players coming back or came back from injury, so it makes sense to play them because they're pretty good, and we want to go through.

"It's a tough place to go, it's how it always is in cup competitions."

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