Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 September 2014

Rodgers hoping Coutinho adds competition

Philippe Coutinho took part in his first full Liverpool training session on Friday

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers expects new signing Philippe Coutinho to up the ante in the battle for first-team places but insists he will not push the player too hard, too soon.

The 20-year-old Brazilian arrived from Inter Milan for £8.5million in the final few days of the transfer window, but he has only just spent his first few days training at Melwood after returning to Italy to finalise all the necessary aspects of the move.

"He's a top young player with big experiences and bringing him into the group adds that competition," Rodgers said. "There's no doubt that the team who have been involved in the last couple of games have been exceptional but it's very important that we've got players in the side who are fighting to get into the team."

It was not an ideal introduction either as many of the players were away on international duty after midweek games so he had a "bridging session" on Thursday and took part in his first full training the following day.

Unlike fellow January signing Daniel Sturridge, who came in at the beginning of the month from Chelsea and made his debut a few days later in the FA Cup, Coutinho is likely to be introduced gradually having had a recent injury at Inter.

"He's a young player I've got very high hopes for but Daniel was ready to come in and play - we'll see how young Philippe goes," said Rodgers.

"He was with the medical team with Milan and he has come here and we have assessed where he is in terms of his fitness.

"He trained with the group on Friday and we'll observe him and see where he's at but competition for places is what we want, that was the whole idea of bringing him in.

"The key for us has always been to build a competitive squad that would enable us to challenge.

"That will keep us going and allowing us to develop."

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