Philippe Coutinho to return for Liverpool's EFL Cup tie against Southampton
By Nick Lustig
Last Updated: 10/01/17 3:42pm
Philippe Coutinho will return to the Liverpool squad for the first time in more than six weeks for the EFL Cup semi-final against Southampton, manager Jurgen Klopp has confirmed.
The Brazil international only resumed full training on Saturday following an ankle ligament injury picked up in the 2-0 victory over Sunderland at Anfield on November 29.
Ahead of Wednesday's trip to St Mary's, live on Sky Sports 1 HD from 7.30pm, Klopp also revealed Coutinho could feature at some point during their first-leg encounter with the Saints.
"I think Phil is fit enough to be a big part of the squad. (It) means there could be minutes. It depends on the game," the Liverpool manager said.
"It's been six or seven weeks. It's long. But no final decision has been made until now.
"I think [it was] the third complete session, tomorrow is the fourth."
Prior to suffering the injury, Coutinho had been enjoying a superb season, scoring six goals and providing five assists in 14 appearances.
Away from Coutinho, Klopp also provided further positive news on the injury front after confirming James Milner and captain Jordan Henderson are close to returning from their respective calf and heel problems.
"Milly, no issues anymore. Hendo, on a very good way, he's really mentally strong. It's still painful, but he's doing well," he added.
"We'll see what we can do with him. Hopefully Thursday he'll be in team training."
Klopp came in for criticism from some quarters after making 10 changes for Sunday's goalless draw with Sky Bet League Two side Plymouth in the FA Cup, with the German electing to field five teenagers in his starting line-up.
A defiant Klopp insisted that he stood by his decision to rotate his squad, but said he will field his strongest side for their clash on the south coast.
"I don't expect fairness in judgement," he said. "It was clear before the game, if you win it's wonderful you have the youngest line-up ever.
"That was the line-up we should have chosen. I could explain each single change, I don't want to but I could.
"I asked 'could we have done better?' 100 per cent yes. I don't expect perfection, but I have the highest expectations because of training.
"Wednesday, the best team we can play, that's how it is."