Liverpool playmaker Philippe Coutinho could be due for light training at Melwood next week, as he recovers from an ankle injury.
Coutinho picked up the injury following a strong challenge from Sunderland midfielder Didier Ndong in November, and was initially set to miss the rest of 2016.
But with the 24-year-old now targeting a comeback at home to Manchester City on New Year’s Eve, his prospects look to be improving significantly.
Now off crutches, Coutinho is likely to join light training next week, with an eye on turning out against City at Anfield.
Speaking at Melwood on Friday afternoon, Klopp confirmed that Coutinho was ahead in his recovery, though the German said he would “never rush a player back.”
“It would be cool [if he could play City]. I won’t stop him,” he said.
“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.
“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.”
Coutinho’s return would be a major boost for the Reds, who have been forced to adjust their attacking system without the former Inter Milan midfielder.
Roberto Firmino has shifted to the left flank, with the No. 11 struggling to perform with the same efficiency as when deployed as a central striker.
However, Divock Origi has scored five goals in his last five games since replacing Coutinho, and the Belgian will take some shifting from Klopp’s starting lineup.
But with Coutinho and Daniel Sturridge returning to the fold towards the end of 2016, Klopp’s attacking options are growing in quality—at a crucial period in the campaign.
With Sadio Mane set to depart for the Africa Cup of Nations in January, Klopp will be eager to welcome both Coutinho and Sturridge back.