Philipp Coutinho is working hard towards returning from a serious ankle injury but Jurgen Klopp says he will not rush him back and this could see him miss his target of returning for Liverpool’s New Year’s Eve showdown with Manchester City.
Although Liverpool remain second on the log, Philippe Coutinho has been missed and his absence was keenly felt in an appalling loss to Bournemouth and a frustrating draw with West Ham.
Along with compatriot Roberto Firmino, Coutinho is one of Jurgen Klopp’s lead gegenpressers and leads the pressing from the very front and while there has been the same style of play since he got injured, Coutinho brings a level of intensity to Liverpool’s game that his replacement, Divock Origi, doesn’t.
A special New Year’s Eve appointment with Manchester City was supposed to mark the day Coutinho returned to the matchday squad but Klopp may have derailed these hopes with comments made in his post-Merseyside Derby press conference.
When asked if Coutinho would be available on the 31st of December, Klopp said, “It would be cool. 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,” Klopp added.
“We will have to see. No idea at the moment. I never rush a player back. I’m the most patient person in Liverpool. I always wait for someone. I can’t rush it.”
Everyone connected with Liverpool will be hoping that Coutinho is on the bench when City make the short trip to Anfield for the last Premier League game of the year. When the fixture list was released many had tipped it as the early title decider and, in many ways, it is. If Liverpool drop points, then Chelsea are very likely to run away with the league title with the form they are in.