Liverpool forward Sadio Mane keen to push on after New Years' Day strike against Burnley
Last Updated: 03/01/18 3:01pm
Liverpool forward Sadio Mane admits his superb strike against Burnley has given him a confidence boost.
The Senegal international smashed home with his weaker left foot for only his second Premier League goal since August as Jurgen Klopp's side secured a 2-1 win over the Clarets on New Year's Day.
Mane was Liverpool's stand-out performer last season with 13 goals, one behind top scorer Philippe Coutinho, despite missing a month at the African Nations Cup and having his season ended on April 1 by a knee injury.
But his current campaign has been disrupted by suspension and a hamstring problem and he has found himself outshone by summer signing Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Coutinho.
The 25-year-old has struggled for confidence in recent weeks, but his goal at Turf Moor has given him a much-needed lift heading into the second half of the season.
"It was important for myself and the team," he said. "I am trying to give my best to help the team. At the moment it is not easy, it was very difficult.
"I think it pushed me up to get more confidence to help the team."
Mane's statistics are not actually that different to last season. He now has eight goals in 24 appearances, three of which have come in the Champions League. Last season he had nine in 21 games.
Mane also scored in the first game of 2017, a 2-2 draw at Sunderland, before departing for the African Nations Cup.
That coincided with a slump in Liverpool's form which saw them win just once - an FA Cup replay against League Two Plymouth - in nine matches.
Mane will head to Africa again on Thursday but this time it will be a whistle-stop trip as he and Salah are on the shortlist for the Confederation of African Football's [CAF] Player of the Year award.
Liverpool have chartered a private jet to fly the pair to Ghana and back so Mane at least - Salah is currently injured - has a chance of playing in the FA Cup third round tie at home to Everton on Friday evening.
That game could see the debut of £75million new signing Virgil van Dijk, whom Mane knows well having played with him at Southampton.
"I think he will be big for us and will help us. He is a great player. I think he will help the team," said the Senegal international.
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