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We can cope in Mane’s absence- Origi

Liverpool’s Senegalese midfielder Sadio Mane celebrates scoring his team’s first goal during the English Premier League football match between Everton and Liverpool at Goodison Park in Liverpool, north west England on December 19, 2016

LIVERPOOL, United Kingdom, Jan 2- Liverpool striker Divock Origi is confident the Merseysiders have enough strength in depth to cushion the blow of Sadio Mane’s absence.

The 24-year-old is poised to link up with the Senegal squad ahead of the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations, which kicks off on 14 January in Gabon.

He could be away on international duty until 5 February, depending on how far the Lions of Teranga progress in the African showpiece.

Mane has been one of Liverpool’s top performers this season, leading to suggestions that they could struggle in his absence.

But, with Philippe Coutinho closing on a first-team return and striker Daniel Sturridge waiting in the wings, Origi feels there is no need to panic.

“Unfortunately, Sadio has to go and leave us, but we have a very big and strong squad, which is one of our big qualities,” he told the club’s official website.

“Whoever plays up front, whatever position, I am sure we can make a very big impact and get the maximum out of every game.

“We are very strong as a group and we are going to show it in the future, I am sure.”

And Mane echoed the sentiments of the Belgium international after Saturday’s 1-0 triumph over Manchester City, saying: “It will not be easy for me to go with Senegal next month.

“I would love to carry on playing with my teammates and help my team, but I think they will understand because it is my country and it is my dream.

“I will be wishing them good luck but without me the team will be the same. Even better I think. They will cope.

“Coutinho will come back. [Joel] Matip will come back and Sturridge is back now.”

Mane will take part in Monday’s clash with Sunderland at the Stadium of Light, before jetting off to Gabon to link up with his Senegal teammates.