Belfast Telegraph

Philippe Coutinho 'fit enough' for Southampton v Liverpool in EFL Cup clash, Jurgen Klopp confirms

The Brazilian is fast approaching a return to full fitness after seven weeks on the sideline with an ankle injury

Jurgen Klopp has confirmed that Philippe Coutinho is “fit enough” to make his return to Liverpool’s match-day squad for their EFL Cup clash with Southampton.

The Brazilian has been absent for seven weeks after being stretched off during his side’s 2-0 victory over Sunderland last November after clashing with Didier Ndong.

Scans confirmed ankle ligament damage as Coutinho was told he could face up to six weeks on the sidelines.

Recovery has taken longer than expected, however. Coutinho missed the New Year’s Eve clash with Manchester City and was also unavailable for the return fixture against Sunderland.

But speaking ahead of Wednesday night’s game against Southampton, Klopp suggested that the influential midfielder is nearing a return to first-team football.

"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," he said.

"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."

And the side will get another lift pre-Old Trafford with Jordan Henderson set to join team training on Thursday after a heel problem.

“It’s all good,” Klopp added. “No new injuries and all the rest are on their way back."

“Milly, no issues anymore. Hendo, on a very good way, he’s really mentally strong. It’s still painful, but he’s doing well.

“We’ll see what we can do with him. Hopefully Thursday he’ll be in team training.”

Klopp is likely to restore many of his first-choice players who were rested on Sunday but he insists that is not a reflection on the youngsters, five of whom were teenagers, who toiled away against Argyle.

"The question I asked this morning in the dressing room was 'Could we have done better?' 100 per cent yes with this line-up," he 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.

"It is not about young, old, whatever. It is about which line-up made the most sense because of the injury situations of the players and the timing: when do we play who?

"Now we have 18, 19 or 20 players ready for the game. A few of them played yesterday and we have to see how they react and how the other players who were not involved are."

Independent News Service

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