By Alex Stevens
Philippe Coutinho is set to be sidelined until the new year with ankle ligament damage, according to a report.
The Liverpool Echo claim on their live blog (4.21pm) that the Brazilian playmaker is expected to be out for six weeks after undergoing a scan on Monday afternoon.
That would rule out one of the Premier League’s outstanding players this season until the second week of January.
Coutinho is in line to miss Liverpool’s next seven Premier League matches in a huge blow to the club’s title challenge.
If the report is correct, the 24-year-old is set to miss games against Bournemouth, West Ham, Middlesbrough, Everton, Stoke, Manchester City and Sunderland, as well as the FA Cup third round and Tuesday night’s League Cup clash against Leeds at Anfield.
The loss of Coutinho for an extended period puts a serious dent in Liverpool’s increasingly impressive title tilt, which has led to wins in nine of their 13 league matches this season.
The Merseysiders are in second place with a tally of 30 points, just a single point behind leaders Chelsea.
Coutinho has scored six goals and supplied six assists in 14 Liverpool matches this season, with five of those goals and five assists coming in the Premier League.
Football Insider verdict:
The loss of Coutinho for six weeks is a potential gamechanger in the title race. The brilliant Brazilian is not only one of the Premier League’s star turns, but also one of the most exciting attackers in Europe. He scores goals, he creates goals and he is getting better all the time. Coutinho is as important as Eden Hazard is to Chelsea and Kevin de Bruyne is to Manchester City, his two principal rivals for the mantle of the league’s outstanding playmaker. Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp will not have to come up with a game plan that does not overly weaken the team’s front line. The Merseysiders’ success this season has stemmed from the dynamic front four of Coutinho, Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane and Adam Lallana. A more orthodox spearhead is likely to be utilised over the next seven league matches. It is time for Divock Origi and Daniel Sturridge to demonstrate their value.
In other Liverpool team news, Jamie Redknapp has delivered his verdict on the club’s title credentials.