Philippe Coutinho returns for Liverpool ahead of Sion clash

Liverpool playmaker Philippe Coutinho has travelled with the squad for their final Europa League group game against Sion in Switzerland.
Philippe Coutinho returns for Liverpool ahead of Sion clash

The Brazil international has missed the last four matches with a hamstring injury but trained with the rest of the squad at Melwood before the team departed.

Lucas Leiva, Joe Allen and Alberto Moreno also trained but have not made the trip, with Jordon Ibe not taking part or travelling because of illness while striker Daniel Sturridge has already been ruled out for a number of weeks with a hamstring strain sustained in Sunday’s defeat at Newcastle.

Moreno’s absence could mean a start for 21-year-old left-back Brad Smith, whose future at the club looked to be over after he rejected a new contract in the summer. Manager Jurgen Klopp’s other alternative is to play rightback Nathaniel Clyne on the opposite flank and play Connor Randall on the right as he has done in the past.

Liverpool are already through in Group B and Bordeaux out, with Sion and Rubin Kazan vying for the other next-round spot. Second-placed Sion will need a point against Liverpool at home if Rubin win at Bordeaux.

Elsewhere, Ajax boss Frank de Boer says his side’s chances of progressing to the knock-out stages look slim but says he has not given up hope.

The Dutch team are third in Group A ahead of tonight’s concluding round of pool fixtures, which sees them host an already-qualified Molde outfit that are aiming to seal the top spot they presently occupy.

Ajax will only get through if they beat the Norwegians and Fenerbahce — currently second and still to seal their own qualification — lose to rock-bottom and already-eliminated Celtic at home.

In Group I, last season’s semi-finalists Fiorentina have a job to complete when they play Belenenses at home.

The second-placed Italians need only a point against their Portuguese visitors to book their spot in the next round along with already-confirmed pool winners Basel, who are at Lech Poznan.

However, like Lech, Belenenses could still progress themselves with a win.

Monaco are in a tricky situation in Group J, with the third-placed French side requiring a win at already-qualified Tottenham and for Anderlecht to lose or draw at home against bottom-placed Qarabag if they are to make it.

Group C has already more or less been settled, with the only real issue being which out of FK Krasnodar and fellow qualifiers Borussia Dortmund finish top after their matches at Qabala and at home against PAOK Salonika.

In Group D, behind pool winners Napoli there is a three-way battle for qualification between second-placed FC Midtjylland, their visitors tonight, Club Brugge and Legia Warsaw, who play the Italian side away.

Group E sees Villarreal and Rapid Vienna both already through and level on points as they prepare to battle for top spot in games against Viktoria Plzen away and Dinamo Minsk at home.

In Group F, qualified Braga are at eliminated Groningen, while Marseille will only surrender a last-32 spot to Slovan Liberec if they lose to them away.

In Group G, Lazio and St Etienne have already qualified as winners and runners-up ahead of their clash in France, with Dnipro versus Rosenborg a dead rubber.

Group H is a tight affair, with only Skenderbau out of the running ahead of their home clash with Lokomotiv Moscow and Sporting Lisbon’s game against Besiktas in Portugal.

Things are simpler in Group K, where Schalke and Sparta Prague have both qualified ahead of their trips to Asteris Tripolis and APOEL Nicosia.

Athletic Bilbao head into their home game against AZ Alkmaar having qualified from Group L as winners, while Augsburg can only overtake Partizan Belgrade in second place if they triumph in their meeting in Serbia by a 3-1 scoreline or better.

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