Sadio Mane hands Liverpool fitness boost

Joe Prince-Wright
NBC Sports

Runaway Premier League leaders Liverpool didn’t exactly need a boost but they’ve got one anyway as Sadio Mane has returned to training after a hamstring injury.

Mane, 27, injured his hamstring in the 2-1 win at Wolverhampton Wanderers on Jan. 23 and although Jurgen Klopp feared a lengthy layoff for his top goalscorer this season, the Senegalese winger is back training.

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Liverpool, who have won 24 of their 25 Premier League games this season and remain unbeaten as they sit 22 points clear at the top of the table, head to Norwich City on Saturday (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and online via NBCSports.com) and Mane could be in the squad.

James Milner also took part in training as Liverpool’s first team squad returned to action after their eight-day break during the winter break.

Klopp’s decision to give his team time off during the Premier League winter break despite having an FA Cup replay to play angered many but a U20 side managed by Neil Critchley (Klopp also took a break) beat Shrewsbury Town 1-0 last week and everything is going Liverpool’s way this season.

The reigning European and World champs now have a hectic schedule of games coming up between now and late March when the international break kicks in.

Liverpool travel to Norwich this weekend, then travel to play Atletico Madrid in their UEFA Champions League last 16 first leg clash on Tuesday, as they then host West Ham, travel to Watford and Chelsea (FA Cup fifth round), host Bournemouth, Atletico and Crystal Palace and have a big derby at Everton amongst that.

Those nine games come in the space of 35 days, so that’s a game every four days, on average, between now and late March.

Klopp will need his entire squad fit and ready to challenge on all fronts but rushing Mane back will not be an option. His importance to Liverpool has been clear for all to see this season and even though Mane will want to at least be available for the UCL clash at Atletico a week from now, Klopp will be cautious.

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