Coutinho plans early return to reignite Liverpool bid

Philippe Coutinho has handed Liverpool a boost by revealing he intends to return from injury for the New Year’s Eve clash with Manchester City.

The Brazil international has been in top form for the Reds this season, scoring five goals and assisting six more from his 12 appearances in the Premier League. This has contributed to Jurgen Klopp’s side playing some of the best football in the country, and has also encouraged the Anfield faithful that they could challenge for a first league title since the 1989/90 campaign.

But Coutinho picked up ankle ligament damage in the 2-0 win over Sunderland on November 26, and he has cut a frustrated figure as his team-mates have succumbed to a 4-3 defeat at Bournemouth which was followed by a 2-2 home draw with West Ham United. But the playmaker has handed the Reds huge boost, by revealing he is hoping to return to action against City.

“This is still my hope – to return for this game,” the 24-year-old told Liverpool’s official website. “The rehab is going really well. I can now walk without crutches and I am working well with the medical team. So I’m pleased with how I am recovering. After the scans, of course it was bad, but not as bad as it could have been. I am happy, as it could have been a lot worse.”

Picking up just one point from their last two matches has resulted in Liverpool slipping six behind leaders Chelsea, increasing the need to collect three points when they travel to Middlesbrough on Wednesday. The Merseyside derby at Everton follows on the Monday night, and they welcome Stoke City on Boxing Day before Coutinho could make his return against Pep Guardiola’s side.

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