Sadio Mane’s Senegal put in a superb performance to book their place in the last eight of the Africa Cup of Nations on Thursday night.
While that is great news for Mane and his international team-mates, it’s likely to be less satisfactory for Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool.
With Senegal safely into the quarter-finals, the chances of a swift return to Anfield have disappeared – but his stay in Gabon could extend still further.
What we know for sure is that, unless he picks up an injury, Mane will start against the runners up from Group B in Franceville on January 28.
Defeat in that game could see him and his Premier League team-mates – including Everton’s Idrissa Gueye and West Ham’s Cheikhou Kouyate – back in England just days later, but Mane would still be unlikely to make the game against Chelsea on January 31.
If Senegal were to reach the semi-finals, that would also likely rule Mane out of a trip to Hull on February 4.
Even if Senegal win the tournament, he and his team-mates are likely to be back for the next round of fixtures, when Liverpool play Spurs.
However, there is better news for Leicester City fans, with Riyad Mahrez and Islam Slimani’s Algeria side on the brink of elimination.
Unless they both beat Senegal and Zimbabwe beat Tunisia – but by the same or a smaller margin – Algeria’s tournament will be done on January 23.
That means the pair could be back in time to face Derby in the FA Cup four days later, although the trip to Burnley, on January 31, is perhaps a more realistic target.
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