Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp is anxiously awaiting a fitness report on leading scorer Mohamed Salah as he prepares for a second match inside 48 hours, writes Carl Markham
The Egypt international took his tally to 23 in just 29 appearances since signing from Roma in the summer but limped off after scoring both goals in Saturday’s 2-1 win at home to Leicester.
Salah has played 1,596 minutes of Premier League football this season — averaging a goal every 94 minutes — with only five other attackers having been on the field for longer.
His absence would be a blow ahead of the trip to Burnley but Klopp knows the 25-year-old will need a break at some point after equalling Roger Hunt’s 1961/62 club record of 23 goals before the turn of the year.
“I don’t know in this moment exactly (what it is) but he was limping. That’s never a good sign, to be honest,” said the Reds boss.
“We have to see what his problem was. We will see what he can do for the next game.
“After a game the medical department tells me who is available for the next training but this time — because we don’t train we have recovery — they will tell me who is available for playing again and that’s all I need to know.
“The good news is Burnley had to play Saturday as well. I don’t think they got the point (in the goalless draw against Huddersfield) without running so they have the same thing. It is not the best thing to do but it is absolutely OK and we will be ready because we have to be ready.”
The win over Leicester saw Liverpool equal their longest unbeaten run under Klopp, when the 15-match streak from August to December 2016 saw them head into the new year in second place in the Premier League, six points behind then leaders Chelsea.
Fast-forward 12 months and they are fourth, four points behind Antonio Conte’s side with Manchester City a distant 17 points ahead.
January was when their collapse started, winning just one FA Cup tie in the month, so Turf Moor — where Burnley have conceded just six goals — is not a trip to be taken lightly as Klopp has great admiration for the achievements of Clarets manager Sean Dyche.
“I think my friend Dave (Wagner, Huddersfield manager) said to compare what Pep (Guardiola) is doing at City — an outstanding season — with Burnley who are doing exactly the same under completely different circumstances,” he said.
“Fantastic, outstanding. I know how difficult it is to swim with the big fishes in the league and obviously they swim quite well.”
Burnley boss Dyche says he will not set Burnley a new target in 2018 until they have achieved their current goal of beating last season’s Premier League points total.
The Clarets remain on course to comfortably pass last season’s 40-point haul, achieved when finishing 16th, after Saturday’s goalless draw at Huddersfield.
Dyche’s side prepare for the visit of Liverpool on New Year’s Day just six points shy of their target with almost half the season still to play.
“The goal still, is to build on last season,” said Dyche. “When you get that goal achieved, whenever that day comes when we get the same points or more, hopefully, then how do you move forward from there? Then we’ll reassess.”
Dyche, whose side beat Liverpool 2-0 in last season’s corresponding fixture and drew 1-1 at Anfield in September, must decide whether to stick with Corkman Kevin Long in central defence or recall James Tarkowski following his three-game ban, while both Stephen Ward and Chris Wood remain doubtful.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved