Mohamed Salah is facing up to four weeks out in a major blow for Liverpool with the Egypt forward’s muscle injury said to be more serious than first thought.
Salah went from dejection to elation on Monday night as Egypt scraped into the knockout stages of the Africa Cup of Nations courtesy of a thrilling 2-2 draw with Cape Verde and Ghana conceding two added-time goals to draw 2-2 with Mozambique.
However, he may miss the final on February 11, while Premier League leaders Liverpool could potentially be without their top scorer for all bar one match next month.
Salah has already missed Liverpool’s past three games because of his involvement in Afcon and could now miss a further six.
Liverpool already knew the prospect of Egypt reaching the final stood to deprive them of Salah for eight games, including Premier League matches against Chelsea, Arsenal and Burnley, but he could now also miss the trip to Brentford on February 17.
“Mohamed’s injury is more serious than first thought and he will be out for 21-28 days,” Salah’s agent, Ramy Abbas, said on social media. “His best chance at participating in Afcon is by undergoing intensive rehabilitation in the UK and rejoining the team as soon as he is fit.”
Salah, 31, was due to fly back to Merseyside after Monday night’s match. He is due to undergo assessment by Liverpool’s medical staff before a complete rehabilitation programme is established. Egypt had hoped Salah could return for a potential semi-final on Feb 7.
He had to be substituted at the end of the first half of Egypt’s 2-2 draw against Ghana last Thursday after injuring his back.
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said after Sunday’s 4-0 win at Bournemouth, when Darwin Nunez and Diogo Jota each scored twice in Salah’s absence, that it “made sense” the player returned to England for treatment.
“However long he’s out, probably everybody sees it like this, it makes sense that he’s doing the rehab with us or with our people,” Klopp said.
An Egyptian FA statement, posted on Liverpool’s official website on Sunday evening, had read: “After additional examinations were conducted on Mohamed Salah during the last hours, and after communication between the national team’s medical staff and his counterpart at Liverpool FC, it was decided that the player will return to England after the Cape Verde match tomorrow to complete his treatment, with the hope that he will join the national team in the semi-final of the Afcon if we qualify.”