Support our independent LFC content & go advert-free.
Support our independent Liverpool FC content and go advert-free with This Is Anfield Premium.

Philippe Coutinho set to start against Man United after passing fitness test

Liverpool playmaker Philippe Coutinho is due to start in Sunday’s Premier League clash with Manchester United, after recovering from an ankle injury.

Coutinho had been sidelined since November’s 2-0 win at home to Sunderland, but made his return as a second-half substitute in Wednesday night’s 1-0 defeat to Southampton in the League Cup.

The 24-year-old missed nine games through injury, with Liverpool missing his creativity from the left flank.

His compatriot, Roberto Firmino, noticeably struggled without his service, picking up his duties in a confused role alongside the likes of Divock Origi and Daniel Sturridge.

This is set to change at Old Trafford, with Jurgen Klopp likely to name Coutinho in his starting lineup against United, in a bid to avoid suffering without Sadio Mane.

“We have a specific solution and then we will think about the next game. We will try to figure out which one works best,” he told reporters, with Mane away on duty at the Africa Cup of Nations with Senegal.

“There is no player exactly like Sadio. But it is not a problem, we will find solutions.

“We know there is a difference between fit and match fit, but of course it’s Phil, we have another three days to prepare him for United.

“It was the best news [of the night] at ­Southampton, that Phil is back. You can see immediately how ­important it is.

“He will of course not be 100 percent, but he can be ­important for us, and it is good he is back.”

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, November 26, 2016: Liverpool's captain Jordan Henderson applauds the supporters after the 2-0 victory over Sunderland during the FA Premier League match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Klopp is also boosted by the return of Joel Matip and Jordan Henderson, with the duo joining training on Thursday following ankle and heel problems respectively.

Henderson is believed to be the most likely to take part against United, having spent less time on the sidelines, but both are arguably as important as Coutinho.

The reintroduction of Coutinho could see Klopp change his personnel in attack, with Firmino likely to keep his place but only one of Origi or Sturridge set to line up with them.

Adam Lallana started in a more advanced against his former club at St. Mary’s, but has proved more effective in the middle of the park this season, and should drop back into that role.

This could see Klopp restore his most successful midfield trio of Lallana, Henderson and Georginio Wijnaldum, though both Emre Can and Lucas Leiva provide further options.

Can, who turned 23 on Thursday, has struggled for consistency this season, but has been tasked with a variety of duties.

When serving as a roving No. 8, he has been largely impressive, but with Klopp’s options improving, there is no guarantee of a starting place for many of his first-team hopefuls.

Get the historic souvenir Liverpool vs. Real Madrid Champions League Final 2022 matchday programme, with worldwide delivery.

Fan Comments