Liverpool will cope with Salah and Endo absences, insists Jürgen Klopp

The game against Newcastle will be Mohamed Salah’s last before he departs for the Africa Cup of Nations. Photograph: Lee Durkin/Action Plus/Shutterstock
  • Players heading to Africa Cup of Nations and Asian Cup
  • ‘It’s a really average situation that you lose your goalscorer’

Jürgen Klopp confirmed Liverpool’s New Year’s Day fixture with Newcastle will be Mohamed Salah’s final game before departing for the Africa Cup of Nations with Egypt, as he prepares to lose Wataru Endo to the Asian Cup as well.

Klopp said the return of Diogo Jota from injury was a timely boost given Salah’s pending absence. The Portuguese marked his comeback with a goal in the 2-0 victory over Burnley after a month out with a hamstring injury.

Jota is a contender to come into the first team for the Newcastle game – and certainly after – as Klopp is granted the luxury of having his “famous five” senior forwards available together for just one game.

“It’s a really average situation that you lose your goalscorer but we had it even worse in the past when Sadio [Mané] and Mo left and we somehow came through it,” said Klopp.

“Traditionally one of them at least went really far in the tournament, which made it even worse. So we have to get through this. We knew from time to time Africa Cup of Nations appears and Mo has to go and that was always clear. Now with Endo we have a participant of the Asian Cup as well. We’ll deal with it.”

On Jota’s return, Klopp said: “Super important, the return of each of the boys is super important but Diogo especially. Everybody was quite positive about our five options, but I don’t think we had it that often to be quite honest. But with the amount of games we have it’s especially important that these boys can rotate between them. Now with Mo leaving and Endo leaving, we need everyone to be back.”

The Newcastle game is expected to come too soon for Alexis Mac Allister, who has a knee problem, while the left-backs Kostas Tsimikas and Andy Robertson are sidelined with upper body injuries. Joe Gomez will continue to deputise on the left side of defence, while Endo should start before joining up with the Japan squad. The Asian Cup begins on 12 January with the Africa Cup of Nations starting a day later.

Klopp added: “If [Mac Allister] could be back for Newcastle that would be outstanding, but after that he has to be back, pretty much. That’s the situation and hopefully we don’t have to talk about that [Salah’s absence] too much.”