Southampton v Liverpool preview: Jose Fonte to be left out, Philippe Coutinho to return
By Patrick Surlis
Last Updated: 11/01/17 8:23pm
Philippe Coutinho is set to return for Liverpool when they face Southampton in their EFL Cup semi-final first leg at St Mary's on Wednesday, live on Sky Sports.
The Brazil midfielder only returned to full training on Saturday after suffering an ankle injury against Sunderland in November, but Jurgen Klopp has confirmed his availability.
Southampton, who will be without captain Jose Fonte and injured attacker Sofiane Boufal, have reached the last four of the League Cup for the first time since 1987.
But they have won just twice since the start of December, while Klopp's Liverpool are on a seven-match unbeaten run stretching back to their 4-3 defeat at Bournemouth.
The Reds boss rested many of his first-team players for their FA Cup draw at home to Plymouth and may shuffle his pack again on Wednesday with Liverpool set to travel to Manchester United on Nissan Super Sunday.
Claude Puel does not intend to include Fonte, who put in a transfer request last week, until after the transfer window closes and Boufal has pulled out of playing in the African Nations Cup due to a knee injury.
Charlie Austin (shoulder), Matt Targett (hamstring), Cedric Soares (head) and Alex McCarthy (hamstring) all remain sidelined.
Coutinho is set to make his return after nearly seven weeks out with ankle ligament damage but is likely to be on the bench, while Loris Karius should continue in goal following his clean sheet against Plymouth.
Jordan Henderson (heel) will not resume full training until Thursday but centre-back Joel Matip (ankle) could make the squad as he seeks to prove his fitness ahead of Sunday's trip to United.
This will be the eighth occasion Southampton have faced Liverpool in the EFL Cup; against no side have they played more in the competition (also Arsenal).
Liverpool have eliminated Southampton in four of their last five EFL Cup ties.
Saints have reached this stage of the League Cup for the third time in their history and first time since 1986/87, when they met Liverpool. The only occasion they progressed to the final was in 1978/79, although they eventually lost to Nottingham Forest.
This will be Liverpool's 17th appearance in the League Cup semi-finals; the most of any side in the competition's history. They've progressed to the final in five of their last six semi-final appearances.
Southampton and Liverpool have kept three clean sheets so far this season; the joint-most in the League Cup alongside Newcastle.
Liverpool have scored more goals than any other side in this season's League Cup (12); their highest goal tally in the competition since the 2011/12 edition (14).
Daniel Sturridge is this season's top-scorer in the League Cup (4), netting a brace against Burton in Round 2 and also versus Spurs in Round 4.
Jurgen Klopp has won seven of his nine League Cup games in charge of Liverpool (D1 L1), and has reached the semi-final for the second time in as many seasons.
Saints have won six of their last seven League Cup games against sides from the same division; their only defeat coming against Liverpool in last season's quarter-final (1-6).
Only Aston Villa (467) have scored more goals in League Cup history than Liverpool (466).
The question about Southampton is are they going to go for it? I could see them sit in, play on the counter-attack and treat it like an away game.
I think they've been getting a bit bland under Puel and you do wonder where the goals are going to come from.
I covered the league game when it ended 0-0 and Liverpool should have won three or four nil, so they have no reason to change anything and I expect they'll get a better outcome.
Klopp seems to be getting twitchy and made too many changes in the FA Cup for me, but I do expect them to win here and, with the form he's in, I fancy Adam Lallana to come back to haunt Southampton.