Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers is ready to welcome back “sensational” teenager Jordon Ibe on Monday night for Newcastle‘s visit to Anfield.
The 19-year-old winger has been out since February because of knee-ligament damage but his return to full fitness has left Rodgers confident he can recapture his pre-injury form.
Having returned from a loan spell with Sky Bet Championship side Derby in the new year, Ibe had enjoyed an extended run in the Reds’ starting XI and his manager is excited for his comeback against the Magpies.
“Young Jordon Ibe will come back in and I’ve got to say he’s looked absolutely sensational in training,” said the Northern Irishman.
“He’s been out for a while but he’s been a couple of weeks now out on the field doing his preparation work and he’s joined in the training.
“He’s looked absolutely outstanding. He’s got real natural fitness and he’ll come into the squad for Monday night.”
Liverpool will head into the fixture buoyed by their FA Cup quarter-final replay win at Blackburn on Wednesday night which came after back-to-back defeats had resulted in Rodgers fielding questions about a crisis.
Their next opponents are in much worse form having lost four successive fixtures, the most recent of which came against their bitter rivals Sunderland on Sunday.
Sections of Newcastle‘s support have been left furious with the hierarchy’s reluctance to bolster a squad left threadbare by injury and suspension, but Rodgers insists they have a manager who cares deeply about their cause in John Carver.
“They’re probably a little bit unfortunate in that a number of players are injured,” added Rogers.
“They’ve got arguably the most passionate man involved in John in terms of Newcastle United – it runs right through him. He’s also a very, very good coach; an excellent coach who looks like he wants to step into management and will do everything he possibly can to get the role there.
“He knows the club inside-out, has been there a long time and he will want to get back on track again having been disappointed in their last performance and result. “We expect it to be a tough game, they always are against Newcastle.”
Although Adam Lallana (groin) and Mario Balotelli (illness) are unlikely to bolster Rodgers’ attacking options just yet, the recent form of midweek matchwinner Philippe Coutinho has been a pleasing aspect for Reds supporters.
Chelsea captain John Terry revealed in an Instagram post that he had voted for the Brazilian to be this year’s PFA Player of the Year and Rodgers believes there is more to come from the diminutive playmaker.
Rodgers said: “His best years are way ahead of him. He’s such a humble boy, he wants to train and loves his football every day.
“John’s probably looking at his performance level; his performance level since he’s been here has been outstanding and is only going to get better which is the pleasing thing for everyone.”