Reports on Monday have put the timeframe of Philippe Coutinho’s return from ankle ligament damage at between around 5-6 weeks.
The news has actually gone down surprisingly well with some Liverpool fans who had been fearing a much longer layoff for their Brazilian star.
Nevertheless, the timeframe reported by the Daily Mail today does mean Jurgen Klopp and co. are likely to be without Coutinho for no fewer than eight fixtures. However, according to a one Daily Telegraph reporter, the 24-year-old himself has his own return date in mind.
If Coutinho is out for the full six weeks, he would miss seven Premier League fixtures and one FA Cup tie before, potentially, coming back for Liverpool’s crucial trip to face Manchester United at Old Trafford on January 15.
And, whilst that may be the most likely scenario at this point in time, Coutinho has his eyes on Liverpool’s fixture against another Manchester opponent a full two weeks prior to their Old Trafford trip.
Coutinho not given up hope of being fit for Man City on New Year's Eve.
— Chris Bascombe (@_ChrisBascombe) November 28, 2016
As the Telegraph’s Merseyside football reporter Chris Bascombe’s tweet suggests, getting back in the Liverpool starting XI for the New Year’s Eve game against Man City would certainly be a turn up for the books at this stage.
Nevertheless, it sounds like the Brazilian star is going to do his best to speed up his recovery as much as possible in order to get back out onto the field for what would be a crucial fixture.
With both City and Liverpool having secured another three points apiece over the weekend, the two sides are level on 30 points each in second and third place in the Premier League, respectively.
If Coutinho’s teammates are able to maintain their levels of performance without the Brazilian by their side over the next month or so, the December 31 fixture could, therefore, play a critical role in deciding who lifts the title come May.
Being able to call upon Coutinho would, then, be a huge boost for Liverpool. So long as he was fully fit, of course.
Although everyone connected with the Merseyside club would love to have the Brazilian international back in the team as soon as possible, they wouldn’t want him to rush back only to cause more damage.
Therefore, even though Coutinho has earmarked the City clash for a comeback date, his actual return to the field will likely be out of his hands as Liverpool plan for a long season.