Coutinho 'fit for Liverpool squad' as Henderson nears comeback

Having completed three sessions with another due before the trip to St Mary’s, the Reds could include the 24-year-old on their teamsheet, while the skipper edges closer to a return

Jurgen Klopp revealed Philippe Coutinho is fit enough to make Liverpool’s matchday squad for the League Cup semi-final test at Southampton, with captain Jordan Henderson hoping to return to team training by the end of the week.

The Brazil international, who sat out the club’s past nine fixtures due to ankle ligament damage, is on course to end his spell out in the first-leg clash on Wednesday.

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Having completed three sessions, with another pencilled in before the trip to St Mary’s, Klopp feels the 24-year-old has done enough to possibly be named on the teamsheet.

Ahead of Sunday’s top-flight showdown with Manchester United, Coutinho could even be afforded a cameo, depending on how the contest against Southampton shapes up.

“I think Phil is fit enough to be part of the squad,” the Reds boss said at Melwood on Monday afternoon.

“That means that it could be minutes, but it depends on the game, of course. 

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“He’s in a very good way. It was six or seven weeks [of being injured], something like that, which is long. 

“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 now. I think today was the third complete session he did with the team, so tomorrow will be the fourth. 

“It’s not that many, but for being in the squad, I think it’s enough, so we will see.”

Henderson, meanwhile, is nursing a heel complaint and is targeting a return to team training on Thursday. 

“Hendo is in a very good way because he’s really a mentally strong guy,” added Klopp.

“It’s still painful I think, but he’s doing well so we will see what we can do with him. 

“Hopefully [he’ll be involved in] Thursday’s team training.”

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There was further good news with James Milner having “no issues anymore” with a calf problem.

And Joel Matip, shaking off a troublesome ankle, “took his first steps, if you want, in team training”.

Loris Karius, meanwhile, is expected to continue between the sticks. 

The goalkeeper made his first start since December 11 in Sunday’s goalless FA Cup draw with Plymouth after being taken out of the firing line. 

“No final decision until now, but it’s pretty likely that Loris will play again,” said Klopp.

“It makes sense and it’s a fair response to training performances. It’s likely, not sure.”

Coutinho in line to return for Liverpool's showdown with Man Utd

The forward is not expected to play against Plymouth and is unlikely to make the trip to Southampton but is set to return for the blockbuster meeting at Old Trafford

Philippe Coutinho’s recovery from ankle ligament damage is progressing well, with Liverpool anticipating that the Brazilian will feature against Manchester United on January 15.

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Jurgen Klopp revealed on Friday that the 24-year-old, who has been sidelined for the past eight games, is “on a very good way” but will not be in contention for Sunday’s FA Cup third-round match against Plymouth. 

He is also unlikely to be risked for the midweek trip to Southampton for the League Cup semi-final.

Joel Matip, who is nursing a troublesome left ankle, received the same prognosis as Coutinho. The centre-back is hoping to return to full training shortly.

Daniel Sturridge, meanwhile, has not had a session since limping off in the 2-2 draw with Sunderland. 

The England international, who had scored at the Stadium of Light during his first league start in 77 days, was withdrawn after taking a knock to his right ankle.

“He didn’t train until now – for no foul!” said Klopp.

“He will probably train today. It depends on how he feels, but it should be possible.”

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James Milner is also set to sit out the Plymouth game, with Klopp admitting that “rotation makes sense” given the exacting nature of the previous three fixtures in short succession.

“We were lucky that we didn’t have any proper injuries after the game so that’s all good,” the Reds boss explained.

“Milly had a little issue with his calf – we weren’t sure whether it was more because of the intensity but I’m pretty sure we will not take a risk with him for the weekend.”

Jordan Henderson, dealing with pain in his heel, will also not be involved.

Coutinho beats Neymar to be named best Brazilian player in Europe

The Liverpool playmaker has followed in the footsteps of Kaka, Thiago Silva and Neymar in landing the prestigious prize

Liverpool playmaker Philippe Coutinho has landed the 2016 Samba Gold award as the best Brazilian player in Europe.

The 24-year-old has enjoyed a productive calendar year for club and country, and has now seen those efforts recognised with a prestigious prize.

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Past winners of the award include former World Player of the Year Kaka, Paris Saint-Germain defender Thiago Silva and Barcelona superstar Neymar.

Coutinho is clearly in good company, with the likes of Luis Fabiano and Maicon also on the roll of honour.

Prior to picking up an untimely ankle injury, the Liverpool forward had netted 13 times for the Reds in 2016, while also finding the target for Brazil against Argentina, Bolivia and Haiti.

He topped the Samba Gold award poll of journalists, current and ex-professionals with 32.13 per cent of the vote.

Liverpool will be hoping it is the first of many accolades heading Coutinho’s way, with Jurgen Klopp having recently admitted that the South American has taken another positive step forward in his career this year.

He told the Liverpool Echo: “In 2016 he has made the next step for sure. He has been very consistent. I think our style of play fits really well with him.

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“We had a few talks about it. Of course, with Phil’s skills, everyone wants to give him the ball and wait for something special to happen.

“Then you think ‘oh no, don’t shoot again’. But if I could shoot like he could shoot then I would try it all the time.

“It’s outstanding how good he is.”

Coutinho had been hoping to make his return to action against Manchester City on New Year’s Eve, but Klopp has revealed that he is not yet in a position to hand his key creative cog a recall.

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He has also suggested that a meeting with Sunderland on January 2 will come too soon for a man working his way back from ligament damage.

Liverpool take in a FA Cup clash with Plymouth and an EFL Cup semi-final date with Southampton after facing the Black Cats, before returning to Premier League action against Manchester United at Old Trafford on January 15.

Ronaldinho: Barcelona are watching Coutinho

The former Brazil international has revealed that the Catalan club are paying close attention to the Liverpool attacker

Ronaldinho has claimed that former club Barcelona are watching Philippe Coutinho, and have ‘a lot of admiration’ for the Liverpool star.

The Brazilian, who lined out for the Catalan giants between 2003 and 2008 is currently a club ambassador for Barcelona, and believes Luis Enrique’s side are interested in the 24-year-old.

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Coutinho is currently sidelined with an ankle injury, but is due to return in the next few weeks. He had been in excellent form for Jurgen Klopp’s side before his injury, scoring five goals in 13 Premier League games this season.

Ronaldinho has backed him to pick up from where he left off when he returns, and believes he will continue to be monitored by Barcelona if he can keep impressing.

“I hope when he returns from injury that he will continue the form he has been showing all season with Liverpool,” the 36-year-old told the Sun.

“He has been one of the stand out players in Europe this season – and I know there is a lot of admiration of him at Barcelona.

“Liverpool will want to keep him, they have built the team around him.

“But when you play at that level then there is always interest.”

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Coutinho has previously been linked with a move to Barcelona, where midfielder Xavi has indicated his desire to play alongside the Brazil international.

“When you play at the level he is there is always going to be talk, but for now he needs to ignore all that and stay focused, because I think Liverpool have a real chance this season.,” Xavi told Goal.

“There are not many players that can improve Barcelona, but if you are asking me if he is one of them, on this form, I think he is. Technically he is very good. He would suit Barcelona’s philosophy well.”

Coutinho 'unlikely' to line up for Liverpool against Man City on New Year’s Eve

The attacker may not recover in time to face Pep Guardiola’s side in the final game of 2016, but remains “in a good way” as he nurses an ankle injury

Jurgen Klopp has revealed Liverpool will not rush Philippe Coutinho’s rehabilitation, with the Brazilian unlikely to feature against Manchester City on New Year’s Eve at Anfield. 

The 24-year-old marked the showdown on December 31 as his dream return date from the ankle injury he sustained in the 2-0 win over Sunderland a month ago.

Coutinho is still training alone, though, and Klopp explained that the player’s recovery programme needed to be “cooled down” due to an averse reaction in the problem area. 

However, the Reds boss believes he is still “in a good way” with his treatment.

“Unfortunately, we don’t have him back in training,” Klopp explained.

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“He makes his training – that’s a big difference. Until we have him in [group] training, there’s absolutely no reason to think about when he is back.

“We cannot rush the situation and we don’t want to rush it. We have to accept the more or less bigger steps in his improvement with this serious injury.

“It was not [just] ‘something’. It was a decent injury and is still, so we need to wait.

“Whenever he is back, the season is long enough that he can help us. We cannot rush it just because there are a few games now. That cannot have an influence on our decisions.

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“A rehab with a professional football player is always on the edge,” Klopp added as he detailed Coutinho’s ups and downs in recovery.

“We cannot say if we do nothing it will take 10 days, and if we try something it will maybe be seven days or 12 if it’s too much.

“Medicine is a lot about experience and all the players are different. He was on a very good way then it was a little bit more difficult, because of a reaction in the ankle, and we had to cool down the situation a little bit. But he is still on a good way.

“I don’t think it will be, from this moment on, long-term still. But the game everybody is dreaming of, the City game for example – it was clear from the first second that this would be really unlikely, but it was the dream of Phil. So try to do it.

“In this moment, it’s not more likely than before but I don’t want to say it’s not possible. We have to see.”

Liverpool – who are currently second in the Premier League – take on Stoke on Boxing Day before playing host to Pep Guardiola’s side.

The class of 2016: Neymar, Gabriel Jesus and Coutinho ready to lead Brazil's future

The trio have the led the Selecao’s resurgence under new coach Tite and look primed to play a huge role in the long-term future of the five-time world champions

2016 was a year of extremes for Brazil. 

After a worrying first half of the year, the Selecao went on a remarkable resurgence following the June appointment of new coach Tite, racing to six consecutive World Cup qualifying victories that totally transformed the domestic and international perception of the five-time world champions.

Neymar had faced criticism from a disappointed local support, particularly for his propensity to pick up needless cards that earned him costly suspensions.


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However, the Barcelona fans most certainly won back the doubters with his performances as he led Brazil to their first ever Olympic gold medal.

And, since August’s Rio games, his form for the senior team has improved greatly in a considerably more functional and cohesive team under the new boss.

And he had one hell of a supporting cast. For the first time since 2011, the Selecao ended a calendar year with Neymar’s name absent from the top of their scoring charts.

Instead, that accolade was shared between the two who have joined him up top to create a front-three Brazilian are confident can lead them into a very bright future.

Gabriel Jesus and Philippe Coutinho both won places in the first XI under Tite, and responded with five goals each to share the honour of top marksman for 2016.

The decision to deploy future Manchester City starlet Gabriel Jesus as a central striker raised some eyebrows in his homeland, but it instantly paid dividends as the Palmeiras wonderkid won a penalty before scoring twice on his debut to see off Ecuador 3-0 in Quito.

He went on to hit three more in his next five matches. Meanwhile, Philippe Coutinho, so long the bridesmaid of the Selecao, fought his way into the team at the expense of the remarkably consistent Willian.

Two of those goals arrived in the qualifiers: one against Argentina in the Mineirao and another against Bolivia in early October. 

The other three had been scored in the group stage of the Copa America Centenario, all in the 7-1 win over Haiti that eventually led to a disappointing second-round exit at the hands of Peru.

The Liverpool man has gone from the periphery to forming the fulcrum of Tite’s new-look Brazil.

And for the first time since ‘the 7-1’, the whole of Brazil are united behind a team they once again believe in. 

And with Neymar and Coutinho just 24-years-old, and Gabriel Jesus a teenager at 19, the future looks bright for Brazil and their tremendous trio.

'No idea when he'll be ready' – Klopp not rushing Coutinho comeback

The Liverpool manager insists he will not be forcing the Brazilian playmaker back into the fold as the Reds star targets a return against Manchester City

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp is optimistic about Philippe Coutinho’s recovery, but has stressed he will not rush the Brazil international’s return to action.

Coutinho has been sidelined since sustaining an ankle injury in the 2-0 home win over Sunderland on November 26.

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The 24-year-old revealed this week that he could make his comeback in Liverpool’s home game against Manchester City on New Year’s Eve, but Klopp has made it clear he has no intention of taking any risks with his star player.

“We will have to see when he returns. No idea at the moment. I never rush a player back,” Klopp told reporters.

“I am the most patient person in Liverpool. I always wait for someone. I cannot rush it.

“It would be cool if he returns against City. I will not stop him.

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“In this moment he is improving a lot. He is off his crutches since the West Ham game, when we left the stadium he was walking in front without them.”

Coutinho has scored five goals in 13 Premier League outings this campaign.

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The 24-year-old has missed three games through injury, but does not want to be sidelined when Pep Guardiola’s side visit Anfield on December 31

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The Brazilian is now able to walk without crutches after having to be stretchered off in the 2-0 win over Sunderland on November 26. 

He has missed three games, with the Reds ousting Leeds United in the the League Cup, before losing 4-3 to Bournemouth in the top-flight and then settling for a point against West Ham in a 2-2 draw on Sunday. 

Coutinho is due to sit out three more fixtures – Wednesday’s trip to Middlesbrough, next week’s Merseyside Derby at Everton and Stoke’s visit to Anfield on 27 December.

The 24-year-old has optimistically circled the 31st as his return date, which will not be welcome news for Pep Guardiola’s side given the Brazil international’s stellar record against City. 

Five of his 34 Liverpool goals have come against them, the most he has managed over any opponents. 

“This is still my hope – to return for this game,” Coutinho told Liverpool’s official website.

“The rehab is going really well. I can now walk without crutches and I am working well with the medical team. So I’m pleased with how I am recovering. 

“Straight after the game, when I first saw the pictures and videos of my injury, I was a little scared.

“But after the scans, of course it was bad, but not as bad as it could have been. I am happy, as it could have been a lot worse.”

Meanwhile, Emre Can is expected to be fit for the Goodison showdown next Monday after sustaining a knock to his knee.

On the midfielder’s injury, Klopp explained: “Emre was a challenge with Divock [Origi] in training, knee on knee. Both trained on and both could do the rest of the training, but Emre had a little bit more pain so we looked a little bit more exact on it and how I said yesterday, I never heard about this ligament, but it’s a little bit damaged.

“He’s already on a good way and I’m not sure – he’s in doubt for Wednesday, but I think for Everton he will be back for sure. It would be cool if he could train tomorrow, we will see. It’s painful, not really more.”

Klopp is hoping Dejan Lovren’s problem is nothing beyond cramp in the hamstring area after the centre-back was substituted at half-time against the Hammers.

“It was cramp. He told me he wanted to play and I told him I want to play too, but since 20 years I can’t!,” the Reds boss said.

“It’s not about what you want, it’s about what is possible and we made the decision together it’s better to take him off, but we don’t know more about it in the moment.”

The manager also confirmed Marko Grujic’s absence has been an enforced one.

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“It’s kind of where the tendon goes over the muscle, so it is a little tendon injury,” he said.

“They told me it was round about three weeks, so he is already on the way back, but not back.

“When it happened, he trained normally and then afterwards he felt it a little bit. That was the diagnosis and since then he has been out.”

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Ray Houghton has conceded that losing Philippe Coutinho for six weeks is a ‘big blow’ for Liverpool but has backed others to step up in his absence.

The Brazilian has been in superb form but is set to sit out a crucial stage of the season after damaging his ankle in a Premier League meeting with Sunderland.

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Houghton is convinced that Jurgen Klopp’s side can continue to push on without him, however, with the likes of Adam Lallana, Daniel Sturridge and Divock Origi in line to get the chance to replace his attacking spark.

The former Reds midfielder told LFC TV: “I think it’s a big blow because he [Coutinho] has been so consistent this season, not only scoring goals but also assisting.

“It looks he will be out for five weeks – a big five weeks as there are a lot of big games coming up. Matches against Everton and Manchester City, there are other matches he is going to miss out on.

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“But he has been a big player for Liverpool. But what I would say at the moment is that there are other players to come in.

“We have been missing Adam Lallana, who has been so consistent this season. Origi, who has not played much, Daniel Sturridge likewise. The manager has got options in that area of the field.

“Although it’s a blow, I think Liverpool can get over it with the players they have got.”

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Coutinho’s six goals in 14 appearances have helped Liverpool to position themselves in the midst of the Premier League title battle, with only one defeat suffered in top-flight competition so far.

They will get the opportunity to move back into second place in the division on Sunday when they travel to Bournemouth, with victory required to lift them above Arsenal and to within a point of leaders Chelsea.

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The Brazilian has truly come of age this season, firing the Reds to Premier League title contention before suffering an untimely injury last weekend against Sunderland.

Coutinho’s performances at Anfield have reportedly seen long-term suitors Barcelona renew their interest in signing him to boost their own charge for silverware, with Neymar thought to be urging his compatriot to join him at Camp Nou.

And the Liverpool ace has made it clear that his admiration for the striker and his partners in crime – Messi and Suarez – is mutual, as he indicated the three ought to occupy podium finishes to be crowned the world’s best player.

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“My top three players in the world are the MSN trio,” he told FourFourTwo.

“One is fast, the other is skilful, then there’s the top scorer, so they really complete each other.”

Asked whether his choices meant 2016 favourite Ronaldo – who won the Champions League and Euro 2016 with Real Madrid and Portugal respectively – had no place, Coutinho was unequivocal.

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“Obviously there are others at Real Madrid too, like Cristiano Ronaldo, but those three [Messi, Suarez and Neymar] complete each other,” he said.

The MSN are set to go head-to-head against Ronaldo for La Liga bragging rights when Barcelona host Madrid in El Clasico this Saturday.