TEAM NEWS: Coutinho on the bench as Sturridge starts for Liverpool against Southampton

20:29 SAST 2017/01/11
HD Phil Coutinho Jurgen Klopp
The Reds' two-time Player of the Season returns to the matchday squad having recovered from ankle ligament damage sustained at the end of November

Philippe Coutinho ends a 46-day absence from action for Liverpool, with the Brazilian among the substitutes for the League Cup semi-final at Southampton.

Speculation will end if Sturridge stays fit, says Klopp

Jurgen Klopp has named the influential 24-year-old, who has missed the club’s last nine fixtures through ankle ligament damage, in reserve for the first-leg encounter with a view to hopefully granting him minutes ahead of Sunday's top-flight tussle against Manchester United at Old Trafford.

Daniel Sturridge, scorer of a double in the fifth round of the competition last season in a 6-1 win at St Mary’s, earns his seventh start of the season in all competitions. 

He has netted eight times in six League Cup appearances for the Reds.

James Milner, meanwhile, returns to the line-up after nursing a knock to his calf sustained in the 2-2 draw at Sunderland. 

Centre-back Joel Matip, who has returned to team training, is not fit enough to be included in the squad while captain Jordan Henderson, out with a heel complaint, is hoping to take part in full sessions again by the end of the week.

Having made his long-awaited comeback in Liverpool’s goalless FA Cup draw with Plymouth last time out, Joe Gomez makes the bench on Wednesday night.

Liverpool starting line-up: Karius, Clyne, Klavan, Lovren, Milner, Lucas, Can, Wijnaldum, Lallana, Firmino, Sturridge

Liverpool subs: Mignolet, Moreno, Gomez, Stewart, Coutinho, Origi, Woodburn