Philippe Coutinho is in contention to make his first appearance for Liverpool since he fell to an ankle ligament injury during a visit from Sunderland on Nov. 26.
Reds manager Jurgen Klopp revealed the Brazilian’s return to fitness ahead of Wednesday’s League Cup semi-final first leg against Southampton at St Mary’s.
“I think Phil is fit enough for being part of the squad,” Klopp told a news conference, as reported by ESPN FC’s Glenn Price. “That means then that it could be minutes, but it depends on the game, of course.
“He’s on a very good way. It was six or seven weeks (of him being out), something like this, which is long.”
Before Coutinho suffered the ailment as a result of a challenge from Didier Ndong, he was in his finest form since shifting from Inter Milan in 2013. The 24-year-old had mustered five goals and five assists in 13 Premier League appearances, emerging as an early front-runner for the PFA Player of the Year award and earning a starting role alongside Neymar and Gabriel Jesus in Brazil’s front three.
Considering his increased importance and that Liverpool is still competing on three fronts this season – the club is positioned second in the top flight, in addition to its continuing campaigns in the FA Cup and League Cup – it’s no great surprise that Klopp is being careful with his forward’s highly anticipated return to the lineup.
“He needs minutes in training especially but then, of course, as soon as possible minutes in games. We will see how we do it. There’s no final decision made until now,” said Klopp.
“I think today was the third complete session he did with the team, so tomorrow again will be the fourth. It’s not that many, but for being in the squad, I think it’s enough so we will see.”
Klopp also revealed Loris Karius, who was demoted to second-choice behind Simon Mignolet recently, will continue goalkeeping duties in the cup competitions.
Wednesday’s trip to Southampton is the latest installment of Liverpool’s quest to go one better in the League Cup this season. In the last term, heroics from Manchester City‘s Willy Caballero in a penalty shootout denied the Reds silverware in the final.
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