Jurgen Klopp has addressed Philippe Coutinho‘s hit-and-miss form since returning from injury, tipping the Liverpool playmaker to find “consistency.”
Coutinho suffered an ankle injury during the 2-0 win over Sunderland back in November, and made his comeback in January, but has struggled for form since.
Since returning, the Brazilian has scored one and assisted another in 12 games in all competitions, and he was withdrawn on the hour mark in last weekend’s 2-1 win over Burnley.
But while Coutinho has been the subject of criticism for his fluctuating form, Klopp believes this is to be expected after a lengthy spell on the sidelines.
“That’s life of an outstanding football player,” he told reporters at Melwood on Friday.
“He has the influence on the game, it’s really big, and if he’s not at 100 percent you miss something.
“Two weeks ago we played Arsenal, he did really well. Burnley was not the best game, but that’s pretty normal after injury.
“The training week so far is perfect, he presented himself really fluent, confident, really well.
“There are always steps in this direction. It’s about consistency, but he’s on a really good way.”
On Sunday, Coutinho will face up to a side he has enjoyed considerable success against since joining the Reds in 2013, with Liverpool taking on Man City at the Etihad Stadium.
In six games against City, the 24-year-old has scored five goals and assisted one more, including a late winner at Anfield in 2013/14 and a virtuoso display in last season’s 4-1 away win.
Klopp will be hoping for more of the same from his No. 10 this weekend, with three of his forwards potentially unavailable due to injury.
Daniel Sturridge has already been ruled out, and both Roberto Firmino and Divock Origi are doubts, having missed training for much of this week.
“What can I say about injuries? We’ve missed a few players in training this week,” Klopp explained.
“[Jordan Henderson] I said already last week, no chance, Daniel Sturridge, no chance.
“Roberto Firmino didn’t train with the team so far, should be involved today or tomorrow, [so] could be an option.
“The icing on the cake is Divock Origi was off yesterday because he felt [something].
“Not serious, but in our situation we have to be sensitive—that’s what we did. We will see if he can be involved today or tomorrow. A few open questions.”