By Matt Farr
Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson insists the club can cope without top goalscorer Sadio Mane in January.
The Senegal forward is set to jet off to the Africa Cup of Nations next month, and could be absent until February 5.
Mane has contributed eight goals and seven assists from just 18 appearances in all competitions, leading Liverpool to a second-place finish in the Premier League at Christmas.
He was the hero for Liverpool as they overcame Everton in their Merseyside derby clash on Monday night, netting the game’s only goal.
The Reds are six points behind leaders Chelsea, but Henderson disagrees with the outspoken fans that think the club will struggle without the 24-year-old to lead the line.
He told the club’s official website: “He has been fantastic for us this season and he will be a big miss when he goes away with Senegal.
“I always knew that he was a good player. I had watched him at Southampton and could tell what he was like from playing against him. But since he has come up here, he has gone up another level.
“That is credit to the manager for helping him improve. It is also credit to him for wanting to improve.
“But we have got players who can step in and we will deal with it. Whoever takes his place, it is up to them to carry on his work.”
England international Daniel Sturridge could be in line to return from the Liverpool fringes as Mane’s replacement.
The 27-year-old striker has made just 12 appearances in all competitions this season, and has not played more than 20 minutes in any match since the EFL cup victory over Tottenham on October 25.
The in-form Divock Origi, who has five goals in his last six appearances in all competitions, is another option available to Jurgen Klopp.
The Reds are next in action against Stoke at Anfield on December 27.
In other Liverpool news, Mario Balotelli’s agent has criticised Jurgen Klopp for his treatment of the striker at the club.