Egyptian FA set new comeback date for Mohamed Salah as he returns to Liverpool

Mohamed Salah will return to Liverpool to receive treatment on the muscle injury he sustained while playing for Egypt at the Africa Cup of Nations.

The winger had to be substituted before half time of the Pharaohs' group stage game against Ghana on Thursday, with an apparent hamstring strain.

Salah was seen sitting in front of the Egypt dugout during the second half of the match which finished 2-2, while he was also spotted walking – without clear discomfort – through the mixed zone following the final whistle.

National team boss Rui Vitoria described his star player's knock as "not dangerous", while the the Egyptian FA put out an initial statement which ruled Salah out of the next two AFCON games – the final group stage clash with Cape Verde and prospective last 16 knockout tie.

Return to Liverpool, AFCON in doubt

Subsequently, however, it has been confirmed that the Premier League's leading scorer in 2023/24 will return to Liverpool for treatment on the injury, putting further AFCON participation into serious doubt.

Mohamed Salah - Pro Shots

Mohamed Salah - Pro Shots

Speaking after the Reds' 4-0 win over Bournemouth on Sunday, manager Jurgen Klopp told reporters: “However long he is out, I think probably everybody sees that it makes sense that he is doing the rehab with us or with our people.”

Asked if Salah could still return for his country during the tournament, Klopp added: “I’m not a doctor. I would say if Egypt qualify for the final and he is fit before the final then probably yes. Why not?

“That’s clear, it’s the tournament. Ivory Coast, I am sure it is a wonderful country, but we have no people from us there and their people have to take care of the players who are playing, so let’s see.”

Following Klopp's comments on Sunday, it was officially confirmed by the Egyptian FA that Salah would fly back to Merseyside for treatment following the all-important Group B finale against Cape Verde on Monday evening.

However, the Egyptian FA set a new target return date for Salah – suggesting he could be fit for the semi-finals, rather than just the final.

The statement (via Liverpoolfc.com) reads: “After additional examinations were conducted on Mohamed Salah during the last hours, and after communication between the national team’s medical staff and his counterpart at Liverpool FC, it was decided that the player will return to England after the Cape Verde match tomorrow to complete his treatment, with the hope that he will join the national team in the semi-final of the AFCON if we qualify.”

Egypt's progression to the last 16 of AFCON – let alone the semis, or final – hangs in the balance ahead of Monday night's game against Cape Verde.

The seven-time AFCON winners have drawn their first two games and need to match Ghana's result against Mozambique to ensure they finish in the top two automatic qualification spots.

When could Mo Salah return to action for Liverpool?

With the semis (7 January) pencilled in as the winger's potential earliest return to availability, it can be understood that Salah will now, almost certainly, miss the Reds' next four games regardless of Egypt's progress at AFCON.

Mohamed Salah - Propaganda

Mohamed Salah - Propaganda

Liverpool take on Fulham in the second leg of the Carabao Cup semi-final on Wednesday (24 January), before facing Norwich in the FA Cup this Sunday (28 January). Those games are followed by testing Premier League clashes against Chelsea (31 January) and Arsenal (3 February), with a home tie against Burnley (10 February) likely the first fixture a fit-again Salah could be available for.

If Egypt were to make it all the way to the final, however, Salah would also definitely miss the Burnley clash.

On current form that appears unlikely, while the forward's fitness progression over the coming days will determine his chances of being in contention for an early February comeback.

So far, Liverpool have won all three games played since Salah left for AFCON.

AFCON 2023 FIXTURE SCHEDULE:

  • Group stage – 13-24 January
  • Round of 16 – 27-30 January
  • Quarter-finals – 2-7 February
  • Semi-finals – 7 February
  • Final – 10 February

THE GAMES SALAH COULD STILL MISS FOR LIVERPOOL

  • Fulham (a) – 24 January
  • Norwich (h) – 28 January
  • Chelsea (h) – 31 January
  • Arsenal (a) – 3 February
  • Burnley (h) – 10 February

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