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Jurgen Klopp unsure if Liverpool's Sadio Mane will make WC qualifiers

LIVERPOOL -- Jurgen Klopp has said "nobody knows" whether injured forward Sadio Mane will return to action earlier than expected after being called up for Senegal's forthcoming World Cup qualifiers.

Mane was ruled out for up to six weeks with a hamstring problem earlier this month but has been included in Aliou Cisse's squad for the matches against South Africa on Nov. 10 and Nov. 14.

Cisse said he was confident Mane would be fit for the two games, but Klopp said the 25-year-old was still working indoors as part of his rehabilitation.

"I don't know how he can know, because I don't know," Klopp told a news conference on Friday. "Sadio is still in rehab. He is indoors and has not done any exercises outside, so that's the situation at the moment.

"If he's fit earlier I would be really happy, but nobody knows at this moment. Senegal need one point, I think, from two games to be qualified for the World Cup so I can imagine they feel the pressure a little bit, but we cannot change the situation.

"If Sadio is fit, we cannot hide it -- why should we do it? If he is fit, I think we can do nothing to keep him here. He would go to the national team of Senegal, that's clear, but at this moment I don't know."

Mane will miss Liverpool's trip to take on Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League on Sunday.

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And after keeping the in-form Romelu Lukaku quiet in last weekend's goalless draw at home to Manchester United, Liverpool must try to do the same with Harry Kane.

But Klopp stressed that his side would not be focusing just on Kane, adding: "We avoided the balls in to Lukaku,and that must be a key against Harry as well.

"If you are too concentrated on one player then Dele Alli is everywhere -- in the box, around the box, and [Christian] Eriksen shoots from everywhere or plays the decisive passes.

"It's a good team. You cannot, obviously, only be concentrated on one player."

Following the 7-0 win at Maribor in the Champions League, Liverpool head into the Spurs game having kept back-to-back clean sheets for the first time this season.

But Klopp said he did not believe that meant his defenders would not be criticised, adding: "It will never happen in Liverpool.

"I'm pretty sure, after two years here, it will never happen because we concede one goal and it's always one player who is then not good enough or whatever.

"We know we have to improve. We improved in the last two games. I said after Maribor and United that we were much better and smarter in protection, to protect our own offensive situations.

"It will be a different game against Tottenham, so we don't have to talk too much about this.

"In these two games when it was similar, the most important thing was to avoid counter-attacks and we did that pretty well.

"I said it at Maribor -- yes we scored seven goals, but the best thing in the whole game was our counter-pressing. That would help in each game.

"When we do this it's always easier on the last line. That's what we have to do in the next few games, too."

Glenn is ESPN FC's Liverpool correspondent. You can follow him on Twitter: @GlennPrice94.


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