Philippe Coutinho set to return against Southampton in EFL Cup

Liverpool playmaker Philippe Coutinho is set to return to action after almost seven weeks out to boost manager Jurgen Klopp’s attacking options.
Philippe Coutinho set to return against Southampton in EFL Cup

Klopp is unrepentant about fielding the club’s youngest ever line-up in the FA Cup 0-0 draw at home to League Two Plymouth despite a dearth of chances. Coutinho’s comeback after ankle ligament damage could help alleviate that issue at Southampton in the first leg of the EFL Cup semi-final tomorrow.

If the Brazil international can get some competitive game time under his belt, it will be an even bigger positive with a trip to Manchester United to come this weekend.

And the side will get another lift pre-Old Trafford with Jordan Henderson set to join team training on Thursday after a heel problem.

“I think Phil is fit enough to be part of the squad and that means there could be minutes, but it depends on the game,” said Klopp.

“It was six or seven weeks and that is long so he needs minutes in training especially but then as soon as possible minutes in games.

“No final decision has been made until now but tomorrow would be his fourth session with the team. It is not that many but for being in the squad it is enough.”

Klopp is likely to restore many of his first-choice players rested on Sunday but he insists that is not a reflection on the youngsters, five of whom were teenagers, who toiled away against Argyle.

Southampton manager Claude Puel has confirmed that captain Jose Fonte will not be part of his squad tomorrow. The 33-year-old defender, who has 18 months left on his current contract, handed in a transfer request on Thursday.

Fonte, who joined Southampton in 2010 from Crystal Palace, was absent for Saturday’s FA Cup draw against Norwich and Puel has decided to leave him out again for the first leg at St Mary’s, although the Frenchman refused to rule out selecting the Portugal international in the near future.

He said: “Jose won’t participate for this game. We will see for the next game. We do not know the future, it is a difficult situation in the market.”

  • Saints’ Moroccan midfielder Sofiane Boufal will miss the African Nations Cup due to a knee injury.

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