Jurgen Klopp’s sick bay filling up with Philippe Coutinho a doubt

Injuries and illness threaten to derail Liverpool’s bid for Champions League football after Sadio Mane was ruled out for the rest of the season and Philippe Coutinho has taken unwell.

Jurgen Klopp’s sick bay filling up with Philippe Coutinho a doubt

Mane is to undergo surgery on knee cartilage damage sustained in last week’s Merseyside derby, joining captain Jordan Henderson, fellow midfielders Adam Lallana and Ovie Ejaria, and striker Danny Ings on Jurgen Klopp’s treatment table.

Coutinho, forced off in Wednesday’s draw against Bournemouth after being sick at half-time, is a major doubt for today’s trip to Stoke, leaving Klopp with a selection headache.

The German will give Coutinho until the last possible opportunity to prove his fitness and has not ruled out him joining up with the team in the hours before kick-off.

“I am pretty sure Sadio will need surgery but I am not 100% sure when it will happen but then it is clear ‘season over’,” said Klopp.

“Phil is still ill. He feels much better but we will have to see if we can bring him tomorrow. Stoke is not too far away so we will give him all the time he needs.

“It compromises our situation and makes life not easy. These are the highest quality players.”

Klopp said he does not believe 65 points — Liverpool currently have 60 — will be enough to secure a Champions League place. “We need to collect a few more points.

“Our opponents are really strong and two of the six will not be in the Champions League. But at this moment it is only how we can make a line-up against Stoke — and that is a real challenge.”

Striker Daniel Sturridge will be in the squad again, having been an unused substitute in midweek, but he has not played since February 4 and ideally Klopp would like to ease him back.

If Coutinho does not make it that could mean a first league start for 17-year-old Ben Woodburn who, even though he became the club’s youngest goalscorer in November, has made just seven appearances.

It has left Klopp open to questions about why he did not strengthen in January when his side were still in the title race and why his squad is not deeper.

“I would love to replace a player with exactly the same quality, maybe his twin,” said Klopp. “But having too many players is not good for a squad because you kill development.”

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