By North-west correspondent Alex Stevens

Philippe Coutinho is hoping to return to training next week as he steps up his recovery from a hamstring injury, Football Insider sources understand.

The Liverpool playmaker has been sidelined since breaking down in the club’s 1-0 League Cup semi-final first leg win over Stoke on 5 January.

Anfield medics expected Coutinho to be out for four to six weeks with his second hamstring injury of the season.

A Liverpool source has told Football Insider that the Brazilian hopes to be back on the training pitch with his team-mates next week ahead of a possible return against Sunderland on Saturday week.

Coutinho, who is widely regarded as one of Liverpool’s outstanding players, has missed six matches and is expected to sit out at least two more, Saturday’s FA Cup fourth-round clash against West Ham and the Premier League trip to Leicester next Tuesday.

In other Liverpool injury news, Dejan Lovren should be back this weekend after recovering from a hamstring injury of his own which, like Coutinho’s, was sustained against Stoke at the Britannia Stadium.