• Premier League

Coutinho fit for Norwich clash

ESPN staff
December 3, 2013
Rodgers worried about squad depth?

Liverpool midfielder Philippe Coutinho is set to put a run of injury troubles behind him and face Norwich in the Premier League on Wednesday.

Coutinho, 21, managed the final 25 minutes as a substitute in Sunday's 3-1 defeat at Hull, having not trained in the build-up because of an ankle strain.

Reds manager Brendan Rodgers said afterwards that the Brazil international had needed painkillers to be able to play any part at the weekend after picking up the injury during the 3-3 draw at Everton eight days earlier.

Coutinho has had little luck with staying fit this season, having missed six matches after damaging his shoulder in a 2-2 draw at Swansea on September 16.

But Rodgers is ready to play the former Inter Milan player against Norwich as his side bid to bounce back from Sunday's defeat.

Rodgers said: "He will be fine. He had no further reaction from the game yesterday. He's trained this morning, so all being well, he'll be fit."

Centre-back Kolo Toure, though, is a doubt after sustaining a hip injury against Hull.

Rodgers said: "We'll assess that in the next 24 hours, but we hope he will be available."

Liverpool's next three home games are all against teams currently in the Premier League's bottom seven - Norwich, West Ham and Cardiff.

But their next three away games are against sides with Champions League ambitions - Tottenham, Chelsea and Manchester City.

Those six league games will have a major bearing on Liverpool's ability to stay in contention for a top-four finish, with Rodgers looking to start with home wins over Norwich on Wednesday and West Ham on Saturday.

Norwich have pulled themselves away from the relegation zone by winning their last two home games - against the Hammers and Crystal Palace.

That has eased the pressure on manager Chris Hughton, whose position was under scrutiny after his side picked up only eight points from their first 10 league games and were thrashed 7-0 at Manchester City on November 2.

But Rodgers believes Norwich should stick with Hughton, highlighting his achievements in sorting out a Newcastle squad in chaos after relegation from the Premier League in 2009, and getting them promoted from the Championship at the first attempt.

He said: "I saw a few weeks back that Chris was under pressure, but I don't think Norwich know what they have. With Chris, everyone knows he's a real good guy, one of the real nice guys in football.

"But what never gets mentioned is that he's an outstanding coach and manager. I remember the job he took on at Newcastle [in 2009]. That summer, when he went in there, they were in massive turmoil.

"The week before the season started, I think they lost 6-1 at Leyton Orient in a friendly. Everyone was looking at how difficult a job that was going to be, and he steered them through that season to win the Championship and get promoted comfortably.

"So he's an outstanding coach. He's been around a long time, and just happens to be a really good guy with it. I think Norwich have got a very, very good manager and he's doing an excellent job there."

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