Who misses out with Coutinho likely to start against Fulham?

Coutinho Liverpool

Philippe Coutinho could start for Liverpool this weekend in their Premier League match against Fulham.

Coutinho’s return to the side means that a very good and very consistent player will be relegated to the substitutes bench, leaving Brendan Rodgers with a very difficult decision to make ahead of the game.

Unless Rodgers changes his three at the back system to a more conventional four man defence, it means one of the central midfield players who has served the club so well this season will have to make way for the Brazilian.

See also: Gerrard: Suarez committed to Liverpool

The three at the back system means that two wing backs have to play, as they can drop onto either side of the defence or midfield based on what’s happening during the game.

It’s unlikely to be Lucas who has been one of the constants in midfield this season, protecting the defence well.

What Lucas does is he reads the game well which enables him to get into good positions to make interceptions. He also spots runners from deep, which enables him to pass that player onto the defence or drop into the defence to cover himself.

It would take a very brave Brendan Rodgers to drop Steven Gerrard from midfield, a player whose ability to cause chaos in the middle of the pitch doesn’t need to be sold.

Gerrard has been one of the best in the business for several years when it comes to general midfield play; controlling the pace and the tempo as well as leadership and organisation in the middle of the team.

LIVE Premier League match alerts to your phone - goals, red cards, half and full time scores

He’s also a Liverpool player who can break forward regularly when the opposition has nullified one of the side’s other creative and attacking influences.

The fall man if Rodgers wants to get Coutinho back into the side as a starter, will most likely be Jordan Henderson.

That’s a shame because Henderson has worked his socks off this season and is one of the most reliable players Rodgers has when it comes to general effort, enthusiasm and passion to win a game.

If Coutinho is going to start, it’s difficult to see where Henderson fits in unless Rodgers goes to that four at the back system.

Henderson can easily play on either side of midfield but whether he has the discipline to play a wing back role, which would mean spells as a right or left-back is questionable.

It’s a difficult one for Rodgers but he may take the plunge due to the effects of that defeat to Arsenal last weekend.

image: © Dean Jones

Register for LIVERPOOL team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch