Belfast Telegraph

Liverpool have enough quality to flourish in Coutinho's absence, maintains upbeat Klopp

By Carl Markham

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp insists they can handle the absence of injured playmaker Philippe Coutinho.

The Brazil international damaged ankle ligaments in his right leg in Saturday's win over Sunderland and could be out for as long as six weeks, meaning he will not return until the New Year.

Klopp's forward line has already been affected by the loss of Danny Ings to a season-ending knee injury, while Daniel Sturridge has a niggling calf problem.

Liverpool's other successful creative force this season, Adam Lallana, is still not fit after a groin injury sustained on England duty, but Klopp is confident they can cope.

"Coutinho is a really good player, so if we cannot use him for the next few days or weeks each team in the world would feel it," he said. "But it is no excuse for anything. As good as he is, he does not decide games by himself, although it sometimes looks like this.

"It is a team performance and he is a very important part of this team, absolutely. Of course we can handle it. If he is not in you have to show - and we will show.

"Phil's not in, Adam's close but not in, Daniel's close but not in - all quality players and we miss them, but you don't look for excuses.

"We like to play football and I think the way we play it is possible without them, but it would be better when they are all fit."

Klopp is still finalising his preparations to face Leeds in the EFL Cup quarter-final at Anfield, but he will not be contacting best friend and Huddersfield boss David Wagner, even though he has already beaten their near-neighbours twice in the year he has been in charge.

"I don't ask for advice not because I don't respect his advice but because it is a different game," added Klopp. "Leeds made a few changes in the last few rounds, so I have no idea what team Garry (Monk) will play."

Klopp has a decision to make on how much involvement to give academy youngster Ben Woodburn after the 17-year-old came off the bench for his first team debut on Saturday.

The teenager is highly thought of by people at the club, but his appearance in a Premier League match has focused the spotlight on him more and his manager is keen to protect him from the exposure.

"I thought it was a good idea, it was only a few minutes," he said of his decision to give Woodburn a run-out in the game against Sunderland.

"Afterwards I remembered it is quite difficult to keep him back from the public.

"We showed him for the first team in the Premier League, but the best news is there is so much time for him to improve and develop and we will help him."

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