Saturday 22 July 2017

Liverpool handed Coutinho fitness boost in race for top four spot

WATFORD, ENGLAND - MAY 01: (THE SUN OUT, THE SUN ON SUNDAY OUT) Philippe Coutinho of Liverpool goes off during the Premier League match between Watford and Liverpool at Vicarage Road on May 1, 2017 in Watford, England. (Photo by Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)
WATFORD, ENGLAND - MAY 01: (THE SUN OUT, THE SUN ON SUNDAY OUT) Philippe Coutinho of Liverpool goes off during the Premier League match between Watford and Liverpool at Vicarage Road on May 1, 2017 in Watford, England. (Photo by Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)

Chris Bascombe

Liverpool anticipate Philippe Coutinho will make an immediate return to action this weekend following the dead leg suffered at Watford.

Although the Brazilian was forced off early in his side’s 1-0 win at Vicarage Road, the damage is not thought to be serious. Most significantly, no scan was required with Coutinho reporting as normal to the club’s training ground.

Coutinho was in good spirits immediately after the game as the pain subsided and he will continue his recovery before Liverpool assess if he resumes training with the rest of the first team squad on Thursday.

Liverpool face Southampton on Sunday having regained the initiative in pursuit of a top four spot. Victory in their final three games would guarantee at least a Champions League play-off position.

"It's a massive win for us. We knew with the results all going our way at the weekend we had to do our job,” said goalkeeper Simon Mignolet.

“That meant there was more pressure on us because if we hadn't done our job then the other teams dropping points wouldn't have meant anything. But it was positive pressure. We wanted to take advantage and we kept our heads.

“It's in our own hands and that's a positive, but it's not done yet.

“We are in good shape but things can still change. We have to keep our focus and keep grinding out results like we did against Watford.

“Everybody is very hungry to play in the Champions League next season. It's where you want to play. Everybody wants it so much and we're going to keep fighting for it.”

Mignolet’s form has been a feature of Liverpool’s most recent victories, the Belgian goalkeeper making vital contributions in the last three away wins.

After so much praise for the attacking style of the side earlier in the season, Mignolet is satisfied more resolute qualities are now coming to the fore.

“We've played a lot of good football this season but sometimes you have to learn how to play against these sorts of teams,” he said.

“To win at places like West Brom, Stoke and Watford shows we can do this.

“We have three more games like this to play. We have to keep that balance. We accepted that a lot had to change in this type of game. I think we've shown we have learned a lot. There are still things to improve but that's a good thing.”

Telegraph.co.uk

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