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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.”

Referee Anthony Taylor talks to Philippe Coutinho of Liverpool during the Premier League match between Liverpool and Sunderland at Anfield on November 26, 2016 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Referee Anthony Taylor talks to Philippe Coutinho of Liverpool during the Premier League match between Liverpool and Sunderland at Anfield on November 26, 2016 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

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.

Philippe Coutinho suffered an ankle injury against Sunderland
Philippe Coutinho suffered an ankle injury against Sunderland

"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."

Divock Origi (2nd R) of Liverpool celebrates scoring the opening goal with his team mates during the Premier League match between Liverpool and Sunderland at Anfield on November 26, 2016 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Divock Origi (2nd R) of Liverpool celebrates scoring the opening goal with his team mates during the Premier League match between Liverpool and Sunderland at Anfield on November 26, 2016 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Liverpool's Joel Matip has a shot on goal during the Premier League match at Anfield, Liverpool. PA
Liverpool's Dutch midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum jumps to control the ball during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Sunderland at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on November 26, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / Paul ELLIS / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications. / PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images
Liverpool's English midfielder Jordan Henderson wears a rainbow captain's armband in support of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender players and fans during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Sunderland at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on November 26, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / Paul ELLIS / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications. / PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images
LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 26: Divock Origi of Liverpool celebrates scoring the opening goal during the Premier League match between Liverpool and Sunderland at Anfield on November 26, 2016 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Liverpool's German manager Jurgen Klopp gestures and shouts at the crowd during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Sunderland at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on November 26, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / Paul ELLIS / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications. / PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images
Sunderland's Lynden Gooch (left) and Liverpool's Sadio Mane battle for the ball during the Premier League match at Anfield, Liverpool. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday November 26, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Liverpool. Photo credit should read: Dave Howarth/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: EDITORIAL USE ONLY No use with unauthorised audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or "live" services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications.
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp on the touchline during the Premier League match at Anfield, Liverpool. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday November 26, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Liverpool. Photo credit should read: Dave Howarth/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: EDITORIAL USE ONLY No use with unauthorised audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or "live" services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications.
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp on the touchline during the Premier League match at Anfield, Liverpool. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday November 26, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Liverpool. Photo credit should read: Dave Howarth/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: EDITORIAL USE ONLY No use with unauthorised audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or "live" services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications.
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp on the touchline during the Premier League match at Anfield, Liverpool. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday November 26, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Liverpool. Photo credit should read: Dave Howarth/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: EDITORIAL USE ONLY No use with unauthorised audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or "live" services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications.
LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 26: Divock Origi of Liverpool and Lamine Kone of Sunderland compete for the ball during the Premier League match between Liverpool and Sunderland at Anfield on November 26, 2016 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 26: James Milner of Liverpool competes for the ball against Sunderland defense during the Premier League match between Liverpool and Sunderland at Anfield on November 26, 2016 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Liverpool's Jordan Henderson during the Premier League match at Anfield, Liverpool. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday November 26, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Liverpool. Photo credit should read: Dave Howarth/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: EDITORIAL USE ONLY No use with unauthorised audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or "live" services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications.
Liverpool's Brazilian midfielder Philippe Coutinho holds his foot as he lies on the pitch injured during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Sunderland at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on November 26, 2016. AFP/Getty Images
Liverpool's Nathaniel Clyne (left) and Sunderland's Victor Anichebe battle for the ball during the Premier League match at Anfield, Liverpool. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday November 26, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Liverpool. Photo credit should read: Dave Howarth/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: EDITORIAL USE ONLY No use with unauthorised audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or "live" services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications.
LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 26: Roberto Firmino of Liverpool controls the ball under pressure of Dider Ndong of Sunderland during the Premier League match between Liverpool and Sunderland at Anfield on November 26, 2016 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp during the Premier League match at Anfield, Liverpool. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday November 26, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Liverpool. Photo credit should read: Dave Howarth/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: EDITORIAL USE ONLY No use with unauthorised audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or "live" services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications.
LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 26: David Moyes, Manager of Sunderland looks on during the Premier League match between Liverpool and Sunderland at Anfield on November 26, 2016 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 26: Roberto Firmino of Liverpool shoots at goal during the Premier League match between Liverpool and Sunderland at Anfield on November 26, 2016 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Liverpool's James Milner (left) and Sunderland's Ducan Watmore in action during the Premier League match at Anfield, Liverpool. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday November 26, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Liverpool. Photo credit should read: Dave Howarth/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: EDITORIAL USE ONLY No use with unauthorised audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or "live" services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications.
LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 26: Divock Origi of Liverpool and Billy Jones of Sunderland compete for the ball during the Premier League match between Liverpool and Sunderland at Anfield on November 26, 2016 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 26: Philippe Coutinho of Liverpool is taken off by a stretcher during the Premier League match between Liverpool and Sunderland at Anfield on November 26, 2016 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 26: Dejan Lovren of Liverpool reacts after missing a chance during the Premier League match between Liverpool and Sunderland at Anfield on November 26, 2016 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
(L-R) Liverpool Chairman Tom Werner, Liverpool's US owner John W. Henry and Henry's film producer wife Linda Pizzuti take their places for the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Sunderland at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on November 26, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / Paul ELLIS / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications. / PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images
Referee Anthony Taylor talks to Philippe Coutinho of Liverpool during the Premier League match between Liverpool and Sunderland at Anfield on November 26, 2016 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Liverpool's Brazilian midfielder Roberto Firmino eyes the ball during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Sunderland at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on November 26, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / Paul ELLIS / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications. / PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images
LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 26: David Moyes, Manager of Sunderland looks on prior to the Premier League match between Liverpool and Sunderland at Anfield on November 26, 2016 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 26: Jurgen Klopp, Manager of Liverpool and David Moyes, Manager of Sunderland greet prior to the Premier League match between Liverpool and Sunderland at Anfield on November 26, 2016 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

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