Belfast Telegraph

Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers is backing Philippe Coutinho to shine

By Carl Markham

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has given his backing to misfiring midfielder Philippe Coutinho after the Brazilian's disappointing start to the season.

The 22-year-old has started three of the Reds' four league matches, but last weekend's defeat to Aston Villa was the first time he completed 90 minutes, while he was also taken off in their Champions League win over Bulgarian minnows Ludogorets.

In Liverpool's best performance so far – the 3-0 win at Tottenham – Coutinho was left on the bench throughout and the early part of the campaign has seen him fail to showcase the talent he has displayed intermittently since his arrival in January 2013.

However, Rodgers has no doubt about the Brazilian's quality or ability.

"He's a brilliant young player, a fantastic young player," he said.

"I had planned to leave him out of the game against Aston Villa because he'd had a lot of travelling in the international week and if we didn't have so many injuries he would have been given a rest on the side and then played in the Champions League game.

"We couldn't afford to do that. We had to play him, but it was great for him and his experience getting back into the Brazilian squad.

"I've got no qualms about him; he's a big, big talent. He has lit up the Premier League since he came to the club.

"He's going to have some games where he won't be at his best, but he always gives his best and that's all I ever ask of the players.

"The kid is a great boy who wants to do well. He's very conscious that I have absolutely no doubts about him."

Coutinho has yet to produce at a consistently high level for a long period, but has shown flashes of his undoubted potential.

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