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Coutinho fitness a timely boost as Liverpool prepare for huge few days

The talented Brazilian has been absent since the end of November.

Liverpool playmaker Philippe Countinho.
Liverpool playmaker Philippe Countinho.
Image: PA Archive/PA Images

PHILIPPE COUTINHO IS in line to make his comeback from a seven-week injury lay-off in Wednesday’s EFL Cup semi-final first leg at Southampton, manager Jurgen Klopp said today.

The Brazil playmaker, 24, has not played since sustaining ankle ligament damage in the first half of Liverpool’s 2-0 Premier League win at home to Sunderland on 26 November.

Klopp confirmed he will be a member of the squad that travels to St Mary’s, with a view to building up his fitness ahead of Sunday’s Premier League showdown with Manchester United.

“I think Phil is fit enough to be part of the squad and that means there could be minutes, but it depends on the game,” Klopp told a press conference at Liverpool’s Melwood training base.

“It was six or seven weeks and that is long so he needs minutes in training especially, but then as soon as possible minutes in games.

“No final decision has been made until now, but tomorrow would be his fourth session with the team. It is not that many, but for being in the squad it is enough.”

Klopp also said that captain Jordan Henderson will return to first-team training on Thursday following a heel problem.

The Liverpool manager is expected to revert to a full-strength line-up at Southampton, having fielded the club’s youngest ever team in Sunday’s 0-0 FA Cup stalemate at home to fourth-tier Plymouth Argyle.

But the German again insisted he had no regrets about his team selection.

“The question I asked this morning in the dressing room was, ‘Could we have done better?’ 100% yes with this line-up,” Klopp said.

“I don’t expect perfection, but I have high expectations because I see them every day in training and I was convinced we could play really well.

“I have absolutely no problem with criticism, but it was not about underestimating an opponent.”

– © AFP 2017

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