By Will Butcher
Gary Neville believes the injury to Sadio Mane will prove costly to Liverpool’s form as he limped off during the Merseyside derby against Everton.
Mane, 24, was substituted in the second half of the 3-1 win at Anfield on Saturday, after his knee buckled during a full-blooded challenge against left-back Leighton Baines.
Manager Jurgen Klopp told Sky Sports that he is likely to miss Wednesday’s clash against Bournemouth, as he was replaced by Belgium international Divock Origi.
Neville claimed in his Sky Sports podcast that if Mane is missing for a month, then Liverpool’s form will deteriorate as he offers something different to the rest of the squad.
“If Mane was to be missing for a month it takes away a lot because he is different from the rest of their front players,” Neville said.
“The rest I wouldn’t call manipulators of the ball, they live in pockets on the pitch whereas Mane beats players and goes beyond. He’s a goal threat.
“We have seen earlier on in the season when he was away at the Africa Cup of Nations that they struggled without him.”
The former Southampton ace proved his importance by opening the scoring on Saturday, taking on multiple Toffees players before squeezing a left-footed shot past Joel Robles.
However, his effort was cancelled out by Toffees defender Matthew Pennington, who pounced inside the Liverpool box to tap home a loose ball from six yards out.
But Klopp’s side controlled the game from there on in, as Philippe Coutinho put a spell of bad form behind him by curling a superb effort into the top corner of Robles’ net.
Coming on for the injured Mane, striker Origi sealed all three points in a feisty encounter by wrong footing Robles when put through on goal.
The Reds play host to Bournemouth on Wednesday evening but will have to make do without Mane, as Klopp sweats over the fitness of his Senegal international.
In other Liverpool news, scouts have been deployed by Klopp to watch this in-form defender.