NEWCASTLE, England: Liverpool face an anxious wait to see if Mohamed Salah will be fit to play against Barcelona in the second leg of their Champions League semifinal on Tuesday after the Egyptian star suffered a head knock in a thrilling 3-2 win at Newcastle that kept their Premier League title dreams alive.
Salah was stretchered off after challenging Newcastle goalkeeper Martin Dubravka for a high ball with scores level 20 minutes from time.
“What I heard, he got the hip of the goalie on his head,” said Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp.
“He was then on the ground and the doc had to make a decision ‘on the pitch or off the pitch’, and the decision was off the pitch. We accept that of course.
“When we came in he was sitting in the dressing room watching the game on television. So he was then fine, but of course we have to wait. He got a proper knock, obviously, in that situation.”
Salah, who had extended his lead in the race for the Golden Boot earlier in the game with his 22nd league goal of the season, will undergo further tests to assess his fitness for Barca’s visit to Anfield on Tuesday and the final day of the league season against Wolves on next Sunday.
Liverpool face a monumental task to overturn a 3-0 first leg deficit against the Spanish champions and will also be without Brazilian striker Roberto Firmino due to a groin injury.
However, they remain in the hunt for a first English title for 29 years as Salah’s replacement, Divock Origi, headed home a late winner at St. James’ Park to move back two points clear of Manchester City at the top of the table.
The title remains in City’s hands as they have two games to play to Liverpool’s one.
Salah was seen walking unaided to the team coach after the game and the Reds hope he could feature against Wolves next weekend to take advantage if City do slip up.
Despite their desperation for silverware, Liverpool will be under the spotlight for how they handle Salah’s injury after a week in which the protocols surrounding head injuries in football were questioned.
Tottenham defender Jan Vertonghen was allowed to briefly return to the field during his side’s 1-0 Champions League semifinal, first leg defeat to Ajax after receiving treatment to a head injury.
However, the Belgian defender lasted only a few seconds before having to be substituted as he struggled to walk unaided and retched on the side of the pitch.
Tottenham have insisted Vertonghen did not suffer concussion, but he was left out of Saturday’s defeat at Bournemouth after specialists advised a “brief period of rehabilitation.”
The incident has led for renewed calls for football to adopt a head injury assessment protocol similar to rugby where teams are permitted to make a temporary substitution while the extent of head injuries are examined.