An in-form Liverpool head to Swansea City this weekend without Mamadou Sakho as he looks to repair his rocky relationship with Reds manager Jurgen Klopp.
The France international claimed in a late-night Snapchat post before Liverpool’s 5-1 win over Hull City last weekend game that the club were telling “lies” about his fitness.
Klopp has since spoken to his squad as a whole, and to the defender privately, to remind them of their responsibilities.
Asked if Sakho had to work hard and keep quiet in order to regain a Liverpool first-team place, Klopp said: “That’s not a route for Mamadou Sakho, it’s a route for every player. Work hard and do your best. That’s how it is for every player.
“I spoke to the team and I spoke to Mama, and we spoke together and that’s it. From my side, everything is done and we carry on.”
Sakho spent five months out after he was suspended in April as Uefa investigated a doping allegation against him, which was later dismissed.
But he played for the club’s Under-23 side in a match against Wolfsburg on Wednesday, and will figure for them again on Sunday, when they face Ipswich.
Liverpool have hit fine form after a couple of early-season stumbles, scoring 14 goals in a run of four successive wins in all competitions.
Last Saturday’s ruthless demolition of Hull at Anfield suggested Klopp’s side have shed the inhibitions that sometimes affected them in home games last season; away wins over Arsenal and Chelsea signify that they have no reason to fear anyone on their travels either.
A trip to Swansea on Saturday is not necessarily as straightforward as it might appear, especially as Liverpool lost 3-1 at the Liberty Stadium on their last visit to south Wales at the start of May.
However, that match was played three days after a gruelling trip to Spain to face Villarreal in the Europa League, a competition that took priority as the campaign drew to a close.
With no European football at all to consider this season, Klopp has enjoyed a few more gaps in the fixture schedule to keep his players fresh.
As a result, Liverpool’s only new fitness concern surrounds striker Divock Origi, who has a foot injury.
Swansea coach Francesco Guidolin has far greater worries.
The Swans are fourth from bottom of the Premier League after collecting just one point from their last five matches, and Guidolin has acknowledged that defeat by Liverpool may cost him his job.
Asked if he had to win on Saturday to avoid the sack, the Italian said: “Maybe, it could happen.”
Former United States national team manager Bob Bradley is the latest candidate to be linked with the Swansea job, following suggestions last week that Ryan Giggs, who left his post as Manchester United assistant manager at the end of last season, could take over.
The one sign of hope for Guidolin is that his team showed improvement even as they lost twice in four days to Manchester City, with a 3-1 defeat in the Premier League coming soon after a 2-1 loss in the EFL Cup.
Guidolin added: “I spoke with the chairman last week, but at the moment the most important thing is for me to work with my players and with my team to prepare for the next game, to be focused and with concentration.”