Rodgers recently revealed that the Brazilian play maker had started work on his return to first team action, but that he wasn’t anywhere near being fit for the 2-2 draw at Newcastle United.
“No [He won’t be ready]. He’s working with the physiologist on the field and he’s looking very good. But he’s still not strong enough to return to training,” said the Liverpool manager.
Liverpool have a huge match against West Brom this weekend, which is more significant for Rodgers and Coutinho than many may expect or think.
Liverpool are third in the Premier League table because they have an inferior goal difference compared to Chelsea. However, they are still very much in the hunt for the Premier League lead.
The more significant up and coming fixture is the trip to Arsenal on November 2, a match which could mark the return of Coutinho to the Liverpool midfield.
The Brazilian will be working away like a mad man at Liverpool’s training ground this week, going all out to get back on the training field as quickly as he possibly can.
It’s naïve to think that Rodgers will throw Coutinho back into the starting line-up against the Gunners if he’s not had any competitive football following his shoulder problem.
That makes the West Brom game imperative because even if Coutinho is named as a sub, it allows the chance of him coming off the bench to increase his match sharpness and physical fitness ahead of the Arsenal game.
Unfortunately, Liverpool don’t have an under-21 game before they play Arsenal, which would have provided another chance for Coutinho to gain some match fitness ahead of one of Liverpool’s toughest tests so far this season.
If Coutinho can feature this weekend against West Brom then he needs to but if it’s too much of a risk then he could be the perfect player to have coming off the bench to try and turn the game against Arsenal as he returns the weekend after next.
It’s touch and go but if Coutinho makes a return against Arsenal, in any form, that’s an undoubted positive for the Merseyside club.
image: © Dean Jones