Football: Liverpool in good place, says Cup of Nations-bound Mane

LONDON - Sadio Mane believes he is leaving Liverpool in good shape as he prepares to spearhead Senegal's Africa Cup of Nations challenge.

The 24-year-old - whose goal in the 2-2 draw with Sunderland on Monday was his ninth for Liverpool since his £34million ($41.7m, 40.1m euros) move from Southampton - says the squad is strong enough to make up for him playing at African football's showpiece tournament in Gabon.

Mane leaves Liverpool in second position in the table, five points adrift of leaders Chelsea, who can go eight points clear if they beat Spurs on Wednesday.

"It won't be easy for me to leave because I would like to help them until the end of the season," he told LFCTV.

"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," added Mane, whose handball six minutes from time gifted Sunderland a penalty which was converted by Jermain Defoe for a share of the points.

Liverpool's next league game - coming after an FA Cup clash with Plymouth and then an EFL Cup semi-final first leg meeting with Southampton - is a mouth-watering trip to Manchester United on January 15 with both sides in excellent form.

Liverpool are unbeaten in six Premier League games - the Sunderland draw ending a run of five victories - whilst United have won seven on the trot in all competitions.