HomeLijnders hints Salah will struggle to return to AFCON

Lijnders hints Salah will struggle to return to AFCON

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Pep Lijnders has confirmed it is unlikely Mohamed Salah will be fit to return for Egypt at the African Cup of Nations.

Salah suffered a hamstring injury last week which his agent Ramy Abbas Issa suggested last night was worse than first feared and would keep him out for up to four weeks.

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Lijnders says Liverpool are also working to that timeframe, meaning the 31-year-old will struggle to make it back to the Ivory Coast if Egypt reach the final, which is scheduled for February 11.

Egypt qualified for the knockout stages with a 2-2 draw against Cape Verde but their talisman is due back in England tomorrow to continue his rehabilitation with Liverpool.

Speaking ahead of tomorrow’s EFL Cup semi-final, second leg against Fulham, Jurgen Klopp’s assistant Lijnders said: “It’s a proper tear in his hamstring so it’s expected [he will] return to play in three to four weeks if everything goes smooth and everything goes right. 

“It will go smooth and it will go right because of how we’ve treated his body before.”

The Egyptian FA were happy for the player to be looked after by his club, rather than stay with the team in Africa, a level of co-operation that impressed Lijnders.

He added: “I always said before what I’m really happy about is the medical team of Egypt and the medical team of Liverpool Football Club really worked together and were in close contact and both made this decision.

“It’s an example of how international football and club football should operate to put the player in the centre.”

Liverpool head to Craven Cottage 2-1 up and Lijnders is hoping they will advance to a meeting with either Chelsea or Middlesbrough.

“Playing finals is one of the most important things I think to develop; winning them… playing a semi-final in January is great in a season. Being able to reach Wembley, one of the most iconic stadiums in the world, is unbelievable,” he said.

“All these things have an impact on development, it creates a squad as well. I said it two years ago when we played all four competitions till the end, it creates for all players a constant opportunity that maybe they are not playing now but maybe in two weeks they are, so they are going to train in a different way and that’s really important.”

Jon Fisher
Jon Fisher
Jon has over 20 years' experience in sports journalism having worked at the Press Association, Goal and Stats Perform, covering three World Cups, an Olympics and numerous other major sporting events.

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