Liverpool’s Sadio Mane set to miss out for up to six weeks

Liverpool’s Sadio Mane had been ruled out of action through a hamstring injury for around six weeks.

Mane, 25, was injured on international duty with Senegal and his absence could not have come at a worse time for Jurgen Klopp with Manchester United visiting Anfield on Saturday.

The Senegalese international scored 13 Premier League goals last season despite missing the whole of January because of the Africa Cup of Nations and the final six weeks of the campaign with a knee injury.

There was little doubt that he is amongst Liverpool’s most influential players, and as a result his injury has come at a particularly bad time with Adam Lallana still struggling to regain fitness after a thigh injury.

Lallana has already been sent to the Aspetar sports clinic in Qatar as he continues his rehabilitation and is likely to return in mid-November, along with Mane who will miss the two Champions League games against Maribor and trips to Tottenham and West Ham, as well the visit of Huddersfield Town.  

The Reds will still hope to have Mane in contention for their Champions League fixture in Sevilla on 21 November before they host Chelsea four days later in the Premier League.

“The winger was substituted 89 minutes into Senegal’s 2-0 World Cup qualifying win over the Cape Verde Islands on Saturday,” a Liverpool statement read. “It has now been confirmed that he picked up an injury during that fixture that could keep him out of action for up to six weeks.”

Klopp’s side have often struggled without Mané, since his move from Southampton, averaging 2.2 Premier League goals with him in the team as compared to 1.6 goals in his absence. Last season, their form fell away dramatically while Mané was at the Africa Cup of Nations, winning just one of their seven games, against League Two Plymouth in an FA Cup replay.

Joachim Low: injured Shkodran Mustafi set for “extended layoff”

KAISERSLAUTERN, GERMANY – OCTOBER 08: Shkodran Mustafi of Germany walks injured off the field during the FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier between Germany and Azerbaijan at Fritz-Walter-Stadion on October 8, 2017 in Kaiserslautern, Rhineland-Palatinate. (Photo by Adam Pretty/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Germany national coach Joachim Low says that Arsenal’s Shkodran Mustafi is expected to be sidelined for some time after the German international was forced to limp out of Germany’s 5-1 World Cup qualifying win over Azerbaijan on Sunday.

Mustafi, 24, pulled up clutching his right thigh in the 36th minute of the match just before Azerbaijan scored their only goal in the match through Ramil Sheydaev and Low later confirmed he sustained a suspected muscle injury.

“With Mustafi it seems that it is some muscle tear or some muscle fibre tear,” Low said. “It looks a bit more serious. In any case it could force him to a longer break.”

Bayern Munich’s Niklas Sule was also substituted in the 22nd minute as a precaution, with Chelsea’s Antonio Rudiger coming on in his place.

Having already secured their place in Russia next year with victory over Northern Ireland, Leon Goretzka’s brilliant backheel sent Germany on their way to victory at the Fritz-Walter-Stadion in Kaiserslautern on Sunday. Sandro Wagner also continued his fine form by scoring his fifth goal in five caps as Germany topped Group C.

Despite Seydaev’s equaliser, Azerbaijan fell apart after the break, conceding three times in 12 minutes from Wagner, Antonio Rudiger and Goretzka, with Emre Can adding a stunning late fifth.

Germany finished 11 points clear of Northern Ireland, whom they beat 3-1 in Belfast on Thursday to reach Russia, with a 100% record.

But on club level, with Laurent Koscielny having pulled out of France’s squad last week with an achilles injury and Calum Chambers yet to feature this season due to a hip problem, any enforced absence would be a potential headache for Arsene Wenger before Saturday’s trip to Watford.

Andres Iniesta calls for ‘open dialogue’ over Catalonia crisis

FC Barcelona captain Andres Iniesta has called for dialogue between the Spanish government and leaders in Catalonia to resolve the crisis between the central government and its richest region following the disputed independence referendum on Sunday.

“I have never publicly weighed in on situations that are as complex and that arouse such diverse sentiments as this and I never will but the current situation we find ourselves in is exceptional,” Iniesta wrote on Facebook. “I am clear about one thing, and before we do ourselves more damage, we need those in charge to open dialogue with each other. Do it for all of us, as we deserve to live in peace.”

Iniesta, 33, who scored the winning goal for Spain in the 2010 World Cup final against Holland, is one of few Barcelona players universally liked in Spain and often receives standing ovations when playing at visiting grounds, has even been cheered even at Barca’s arch-rivals Real Madrid home turf, Santiago Bernabeu.

He played 121 times for Spain and also won the 2008 and 2012 European championships alongside La Roja, although he is injured at present and unable to join the squad for their final World Cup qualifiers against Albania and Israel.

Meanwhile, Gerard Pique — a teammate of Iniesta’s both at Barca and at Spain, said he considered leaving the Spain team after he was whistled and verbally abused by supporters at the Spanish training session on Monday but insisted he would not give those fans satisfaction by walking away.

Pique echoed Iniesta in an appeal for respect and dialogue in the wake of Sunday’s Catalan referendum as the political situation grows increasingly tense, but also refused to reveal whether he had voted yes, describing that as the “$1m question”, while dismissing the popular assumption that he is in favour of independence.

The defender, who had pledged to retire from the Spanish international team should his views for a Catalan independence referendum be deemed a “problem”, said: “My commitment to the national team is maximum. I feel very proud to be here. I have thought about [leaving] and I think the best thing is to stay.”

“Going would mean that those people have won, those who think the best solution is to whistle and insult. I’m not going to give them that satisfaction. There are lots of people who want me to stay. If you talk, you can reach an understanding. I am sure that if I sat down with them all, it would be different. There are people in Spain whose positions are very diverse and if you talk, you can find a solution. I’d like people to listen and think: ‘What he says is reasonable.’”