Sadio Mane insists Liverpool will keep their Premier League title challenge on track while he is away on African Nations Cup duty.
Mane headed off to join up with the Senegal squad after Monday’s 2-2 draw with Sunderland with mixed feelings after looking to have snatched victory at the Stadium of Light before handing the Black Cats a point by conceding a late penalty.
However, the Reds emerged from their three games inside seven days over the festive period with seven points to keep themselves in second place and on the tail of leaders Chelsea.
Mane will look on from afar for the next few weeks from the international tournament, which gets under way in Gabon on January 14, but he is confident his club will still be going strong on his return.
He told LFC TV: “It won’t be easy for me to leave because I would like to help them until the end of the season.
“But I wish them good luck. We have a strong team and I think it won’t be a problem. They will do it.
“I think we are in a good position. The draw is okay, but now the most important thing is the reaction. Everybody knows that and we are ready for the next game.”
That next league game, which will follow cup clashes with Plymouth and Southampton, is a trip to in-form Manchester United, who secured a seventh successive win in all competitions at West Ham on Monday.
Liverpool will head for Old Trafford unbeaten in six league outings, but having seen a fifth victory on the trot wrenched from their grasp on Wearside.
They led through Daniel Sturridge’s 20th-minute header, but were pegged back when Ragnar Klavan tripped Didier Ndong inside the box and Jermain Defoe levelled from the spot.
Mane’s tap-in 18 minutes from time looked to have secured the points, but he blocked Sebastian Larsson’s goal-bound free-kick with his hand with six minutes remaining and Defoe obliged once again from 12 yards.
Liverpool’s disappointment was compounded by ankle and calf injuries respectively to Sturridge and James Milner, although Klopp revealed after the game that, like Jordan Henderson, who missed out against his former club with a heel problem, their absences are unlikely to be lengthy.