Jurgen Klopp has wished Mohamed Salah and Wataru Endo the worst of luck on international duty, with the Liverpool duo jetting off to compete at the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) and the Asian Cup respectively. The Reds are set to be without Salah and Endo for a number of key matches this month, starting with an FA Cup tie against Arsenal on Sunday.
Salah’s Egypt are preparing for AFCON group stage matches against Mozambique, Ghana and Cape Verde over the next two-and-a-half weeks. If they make it all the way to the final, as they did two years ago, the Reds’ top scorer will be out of action until at least February 17.
Midfielder Endo would be unavailable until the same date if Japan make it all the way to the Asian Cup final next month. And Klopp has made it clear that he doesn’t want either player to enjoy a deep run at their respective tournaments.
“I said if I wish them good luck it would be a lie,” admitted the German during his press conference on Friday morning. “Hopefully they are out in the group stages but it’s not likely possible.
“Hopefully they can come back healthy. I am pretty positive we will find a way [to replace them] but we have to show that.”
Klopp will have to reshuffle his side when the Gunners arrive at Anfield this weekend. But the former Borussia Dortmund boss wasn’t overly enthusiastic when quizzed on the players he could use to fill in for Salah on the right flank.
Liverpool face a two-legged Carabao Cup semi-final against Fulham and Premier League clashes against Chelsea and Arsenal over the coming weeks, which Endo and Salah could both miss.
Salah is by far and away the Reds’ top scorer in the Premier League this season, notching 14 goals and eight assists. Klopp currently boasts a three-point advantage at the top of the table, although Manchester City could close the gap to two points by winning their game in hand.