Sadio Mané’s importance to Liverpool has been underlined by the club’s decision to employ a physiotherapist to shadow the £34 million striker at the Africa Cup of Nations next month.

Dave Galley, who was Liverpool’s head physio for six years between 1999 and 2005, has been recruited in the short term and will follow Mané when he joins up with Senegal in Gabon.

Mané will leave after the Sunderland match on Monday and could be away for a month, with the AFCON final on February 5. He could miss up to four Premier League matches, including a clash with title rivals Chelsea on January 31, as well as an FA Cup tie with Plymouth Argyle and the two-legged EFL Cup semi-final against his former side, Southampton.

Galley will dovetail with the Senegal FA and be a man on the ground to relay updates on Mané’s fitness to Liverpool. He was the England Under-21 physio for 19 years and worked for Sunderland, Nottingham Forest and most recently Al Ain until August.

Jürgen Klopp has a WhatsApp group with which he keeps in touch with his Liverpool players when they are on international duty, but Galley’s presence in Gabon will be an extension of that.

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