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Liverpool must make changes after losing Sadio Mane to injury

Liverpool have been rocked by the news that Sadio Mane could miss up to six weeks of action after picking up a hamstring injury when on international duty with Senegal.

The development is a significant blow to Jurgen Klopp, who must figure out how to deal with the forward's absence for the upcoming Manchester United fixture and then for well over a month.

ESPN FC assess three ways Liverpool can get by without the dominant 25-year-old.

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Formation change

While there's no getting over the fact that losing Mane is a huge blow, Liverpool must remember that they can survive without their influential No. 19. Indeed, Liverpool achieved a top-four finish last season, despite the fact Mane missed the last eight crucial matches, as knee surgery curtailed his truly excellent debut campaign at Anfield.

One way Klopp got around his absence, at times, was to go away from the trusted 4-3-3 formation that had served Liverpool well up to that point and opt for a midfield diamond with two up front.

It served them particularly well in the 4-0 victory at West Ham United, with Philippe Coutinho in a central-midfield role, continually playing perfectly-executed through balls to find Daniel Sturridge's runs.

Sturridge would now be thrust into the side and needs to find his rhythm that he's been clearly lacking so far this term. Roberto Firmino or Mohamed Salah could play just behind in order to assist. Young Dominic Solanke has looked sharp in his few appearances for the Reds and could be an option up top, too.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
Sadio Mane's injury may be the break Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain needs with Liverpool.

Give Oxlade-Chamberlain the chance he's always craved

Mane's injury may expose Liverpool's shortcomings in the transfer market. They may regret not making a move for Monaco's Thomas Lemar earlier due to the Frenchman's ability to play on both wings. But Liverpool did make one move towards the end of the transfer window, landing Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain on deadline day from Arsenal in a deal that could be worth up to £40 million.

Oxlade-Chamberlain hasn't had the easier of beginnings to his Liverpool career, making just one start -- a League Cup tie at Leicester City. The England international said he moved to Anfield because he felt it was "right for the next stage in my ongoing development". Mane's injury, however unfortunate, might be the break he needs.

The lack of a defined position has been used as a stick to beat Oxlade-Chamberlain with throughout his entire career. During his first interview with Merseyside club after signing, the 24-year-old was asked the age-old question about his preferred position.

"I've spoke about this for about six years -- my whole career -- where I'm going to be playing or where I'd like to play," he said. "I just say I'd like to be an attacking midfielder.

"I just want to be able to be an attacking influence and have that effect further up the pitch, whether that's from an attacking midfield position or one of the wider positions coming in, I'm not too fussed."

A spot on the wing has opened up with Mane's injury and Oxlade-Chamberlain is certainly candidate to deputise.

Push Coutinho forward further

As it happens, this season has seen Mane operating in the left-forward position where Coutinho played for most of 2016-17.

After Salah's arrival this summer for a club-record fee, Klopp's first-choice starting XI would now see Coutinho in a No. 8 central-midfield position, with Mane on the left flank to allow Salah to play on his best side.

A shift in personnel will have to occur following the Mane news, and moving Coutinho back to the position where he scored a career-best 14 goals last season should soften the blow somewhat. Adam Lallana's return from a groin injury may be timely, allowing for Coutinho to go forward with Liverpool not losing too much quality in the three-man midfield as a result.

Mane stepped up earlier this season when Coutinho was away from the fold as he attempted to force a move to Barcelona. Liverpool supporters will hope the Brazilian now returns the favour.

Glenn is ESPN FC's Liverpool correspondent. You can follow him on Twitter: @GlennPrice94.


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