Philippe Coutinho set out to return from an ankle injury in time to face Manchester City in a clash between two of this season’s top sides. It was always an ambitious target, one that as the weeks passed seemed unlikely to be met. Today, Jürgen Klopp confirmed he will not be ready to face City.
“He is in a good way, a really good way,” Klopp told reporters when asked about Coutinho’s current injury status at his pre-match press conference today. “But for the City game, for sure it is too early and if City is too early I am pretty sure that the Sunderland game would be too early, too.”
Even had he been ready to face City, it’s unlikely Coutinho would have started given his extended layoff, so his confirmed absence is unlikely to change Klopp’s plans at the start of the match. It does, however, mean there will be fewer bench options for the manager to turn to should they be needed.
It could also make things difficult when Liverpool play their second game in less than 24 hours against Sunderland on Monday. The quick turnaround combined with a lack of attacking depth due to Coutinho’s injury as well as the continuing absence of Danny Ings will mean either tired legs or some youth involvement.
Klopp also confirmed that the club will be without defender Joël Matip, certainly against City and also likely against Sunderland. In his absence, Ragnar Klavan will start alongside Dejan Lovren against City at least, though Lucas could make an appearance against Sunderland.