How should Brendan Rodgers replace Philippe Coutinho?

Liverpool are sweating over the fitness of Philippe Coutinho after a should injury which Brendan Rodgers says changed the game against Swansea.

Coutinho has struggled to find his best form so far this season but that doesn’t change the fact he’s a top quality midfielder and his absence gives Brendan Rodgers a headache ahead of important matches for the club.

Liverpool face a home match against Southampton in the Premier League this weekend before a mid-week League Cup tie against Manchester United.

If Coutinho’s injury turns up to be severe, keeping him out for a prolonged period of time then Rodgers has to quickly work out how he’s going to replace his Brazilian play maker.

Iago Aspas came off the bench for him last night, to play as the number ten style player for just over half an hour.

However, Aspas looks as though he’s still searching for his best form in the Premier League, not quite showing the same level of maturity and skill on the ball as the man he replaced.

One option is to push Steven Gerrard further forward into a more advanced role because of how dangerous he can be in and around the opponent’s penalty area.

The only downside to that option is the fact that Liverpool would be moving one of their most effective and commanding central midfielders away from the centre of the pitch, potentially leaving them more exposed and vulnerable.

Other midfield options are provided in the form of Luis Alberto, Raheem Sterling, Jordon Ibe and Joe Allen.

The problem is three of those players are predominantly wide men, used to attacking down the flanks and Allen is only just coming back after a spell out with his own injury.

Fingers crossed it’s not the case, but if Coutinho has picked up a long term problem, then the return of Luis Suarez isn’t too far around the corner.

Suarez and Daniel Sturridge are a good enough combination to be able to drop off at different times, giving the midfield that extra strength and creativity. Either player could do a very good job in a slightly withdrawn role in attack.

However, with Sturridge on such a hot streak of form, the value in toying with his position is small. It’s an old saying but if it’s not broken then don’t try to fix it.

The most likely scenario is that Rodgers will retain a strong midfield trio of Gerrard, Lucas and Jordan Henderson using a winger and possibly Suarez to create extra width with the Uruguayan also roaming that gap in between the opposition’s midfield and defence.

What do you think? How should Rodgers deal with Coutinho’s possible absence? Is Alberto the most natural fit?

image: © Dean Jones

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