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Mohamed Salah commitment shouldn’t be doubted – Liverpool assistant Pep Lijnders

Pep Lijnders has dismissed criticism of Mohamed Salah as the Liverpool attacker heads back to Merseyside from the Africa Cup of Nations.

The Egypt international has come in for criticism in his homeland after the decision was taken that their captain would leave their camp and do his rehabilitation from a hamstring injury with Liverpool’s staff.

However, Lijnders insists it’s all about maximising the chances of Salah being fit to return to Ivory Coast for the final if Egypt, who qualified for the last 16 on Monday, make it that far.

Liverpool’s assistant manager said: “No-one should ever doubt the commitment of Mo Salah. I’ve never met a guy who is more committed to the life of being a professional football player.

“I know the country is devastated losing him, we were devastated to hear that he got injured.

“The only reason our medical team and their medical team decided for him to come back is to give him the best possible chance of being available for the final if Egypt get there.”

Egypt initially announced that Salah would only miss two matches after being forced off against Ghana last week, but further tests revealed that the damage was worse than first feared.

“The first message that came out was it would only be one week,” Lijnders added. “But then the detailed scan showed a proper tear in his hamstring so the expected return to playing will be between three and four weeks if everything goes smoothly.

“What I’m really happy about is that the medical team of Egypt and Liverpool really worked together. We both made this decision. It’s an example of how international and club football should co-operate — putting the player in the centre.

“We all made the decision about what’s best for Mo — a stable environment, knowing the people who have time to focus on his rehab process in this facility.”

Salah watched the Cape Verde match from the stands (FRANCK FIFE/AFP via Getty Images)

Salah was substituted in the first half against Ghana. Having undergone medical assessment, it was ruled that he would miss their next two fixtures.

The 31-year-old missed Egypt’s 2-2 draw against Cape Verde on Monday but watched on from the stands as his nation progressed to the round of 16, which the forward will also sit out as he recovers.

Jurgen Klopp said on Sunday after Liverpool’s Premier League win at Bournemouth: “That’s the plan (for Salah to return). I think probably everybody sees it makes sense that he’s doing the rehab with us or with our people.”

However, Egypt’s national team doctor, Mohamed Abou El-Ela, told ONTime Sports on Tuesday when asked if Klopp’s statement had put Egypt in a bad position: “Of course. This wasn’t agreed on.

“If Mohamed wanted to leave, he could have left from the first day.”

Salah’s agent Ramy Abbas Issa posted on Monday evening: “Mohammed’s injury is more serious than first thought and he will be out for 21-28 days, and not two games.

“His best chance at participating in the current AFCON is by undergoing intensive rehabilitation in the UK and rejoining the team as soon as he is fit.”

El-Ela added that Egypt had been speaking with Liverpool “five times a day, half an hour each call” as they discussed how Salah’s rehabilitation should take shape.

Meanwhile, Andy Robertson could make his comeback after three months out with a shoulder injury in Wednesday’s Carabao Cup semi-final second leg against Fulham at Craven Cottage.

In a further boost for Klopp’s side, a scan has revealed no damage to Curtis Jones’ hamstring after he came off in Sunday’s win at Bournemouth.

Trent Alexander-Arnold and Dominik Szoboszlai are on course to make their returns to action in Sunday’s FA Cup tie at home to Norwich City.

Lijnders said: “Robbo trained with the team yesterday. I just met him in the canteen and he said: ‘Pep, I have my tracksuit with me!’ So he’s pushing himself into the squad. He will travel.”

(FRANCK FIFE/AFP via Getty Images)

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