Coutinho has scored in each of his last three appearances for the Reds, but former Blackburn and MK Dons manager Ince believes the directness and pace Mane brings to the table will be much harder to replace than the creative flair of the Brazilian when Manchester United visit Anfield on Saturday lunchtime.
Speaking to Paddy Power, Ince said: “Sadio Mane being out for six weeks is bad news for Liverpool, he’s a much bigger loss than Philippe Coutinho would be.
“Mane is much more involved in the game from start to finish, without him Liverpool’s side are a lot weaker – he’s vital.”
Liverpool failed to score from open play in their two meetings with Jose Mourinho’s United side last season, and Mane will be a major loss in Jurgen Klopp’s attempts to change that after his 13 league goals helped bring Champions League football back to Merseyside.
Midfielder Ince is one of few players to have featured for both clubs during his career, but only sees United as genuine title contenders this season after Liverpool’s inconsistent start to the campaign and believes the Red Devils will not find it hard to break down the suspect defence at Anfield.
He said: “Win or lose, United will still be challenging for the title. Liverpool don’t come close.
” Mourinho will want to win it, he can answer those doubters who are saying ‘well they’ve not played anyone yet’ and he knows that. It’s a chance to shut people up.
“They’re scoring a lot of goals, Romelu Lukaku is on fire, and that could really be the difference between the two teams.
“Liverpool don’t take their chances and their defence is poor, so you would think Lukaku would have too much for that back line.”