Liverpool's £22m summer target looks likely to keep crocked Coutinho out of World Cup

Coutinho Liverpool

Whilst he's lit up the Premier League in 2013, could Brazil attack the World Cup without Philippe Coutinho, and with Bernard instead?

Despite suffering a shoulder injury that has sidelined him for almost a month so far, Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho could still make waves with the Brazil national team in their home World Cup.

A revelation since his £8.5m move from Inter Milan in January, Coutinho has become a key member of Brendan Rodgers' Liverpool side and the 21 year old, still harbours dreams of breaking into Luiz Felipe Scolari's side - despite earning just one cap, which was just over three years ago.

"I dream of getting called up again for the national team, but it's only up to me," said Coutinho.

"Of course it's bad when you get injured in a moment like this, but this is football.

"I have had a set-back and my concern is being fully ready as soon as possible. If I play well, things will happen naturally."

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Although Coutinho has dazzled the Premier League with his skill and passing ability, there are a number of players who Scolari could choose instead of him - assuming Chelsea's Oscar is guaranteed of a position in the squad. Scolari has a number of attacking players at his disposable, both old and young, and some in between.

At the Confederations Cup, Scolari chose to play a 4-2-1-3 system, with Oscar playing as an attacking midfielder behind a front three of Neymar, Fred and Hulk. Whilst Coutinho has featured out wide for Rodgers at Liverpool, his best position is as a traditional "No. 10", working in the space behind the striker in order to use his creativity and immense vision, and as Oscar already has 25 caps at the age of just 22, he is certainly in the box seat for the starting role.

Scolari, like any manager, should be looking for players who can play in multiple roles with a limit to the size of his squad. Coutinho's ability to fill in out wide could give him an advantage over players like Diego and even Kaka or Ronaldinho, who could yet force their way back into Scolari's squad despite their last caps coming around six months ago.

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The main contender with Coutinho appears to be Bernard of Shakhtar Donetsk, whose incredible form was a huge factor as Atletico Mineiro clinched the Copa Libertadores title. His £22m move to Ukraine was certainly warranted, despite interest from Liverpool, among other Premier League outfits. His ability to play behind a striker or out wide effectively has made him a regular in Scolari's squads.

Despite the Premier League being a higher standard than Ukrainian football, it seems Bernard has the upper hand at the moment. Coutinho will need to impress upon his return from injury to challenge Bernard, and it seems that one of the finest players in the Premier League could miss out on the world's biggest spectacle.

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image: © Dean Jones

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