Belfast Telegraph

Rodgers hails Coutinho contribution

Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers believes the form of Philippe Coutinho should put him in contention for player of the season prizes.

The Brazilian playmaker has been outstanding in the Reds' recent resurgence and headlined his performances with a series of superb goals.

His latest brilliant strike secured a 2-1 victory over champions Manchester City at Anfield on Sunday, coming soon after similar crucial goals against Bolton and Southampton.

The 22-year-old would also be eligible for young player awards and Rodgers thinks he deserves to come into consideration when the season's most influential performers are assessed.

Rodgers said: "He is certainly going to be up there, there is no doubt about that. He has played very well.

"I think that period the team suffered at the start of the season, with our lack of penetration at the top of the field - he is the player that thrives on that. He is normally the player that makes the last pass for those players running in to score the goals.

"We didn't quite have that in the opening months. He had to stay longer on the ball and wasn't as effective, but now the dynamics in the team are very good, with the pressing and the movement off the ball.

"That allows him and his technical quality to really shine and he is starting to add goals to his game, and scoring some fantastic goals. Very importantly, he is contributing to the team and there are still improvements to make from someone so young."

Rodgers, speaking at a press conference to preview Wednesday's clash with Burnley, also revealed that youngster Jordon Ibe's knee injury was likely to keep him out until the end of March.

The 19-year-old winger, who has been a revelation since returning from an early-season loan at Derby, was injured in last Thursday's Europa League defeat at Besiktas and missed the visit of City.

Rodgers said: "Young Jordon Ibe will probably be out for a few weeks. He just twisted his knee laterally on the outside of his knee in Turkey, had to come off towards the end.

"He has had a scan on that. It's not too serious but he is probably just going to be out for a few weeks. We'll probably have him back towards the end of March."

Captain Steven Gerrard is making good progress in his recovery from the hamstring injury that has kept him out for the last five games.

Rodgers said of the 34-year-old: "He is coming along very well. He is building up strength in his hamstring. He been outside and is working very hard. Hopefully in the near future he will be back and available."

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