Coutinho can cope with rough and tumble: Rodgers
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers insists he has no concerns over Philippe Coutinho`s ability to handle the physical side of the Premier League ahead of his team`s clash with West Ham on Saturday.
London: Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers insists he has no concerns over Philippe Coutinho`s ability to handle the physical side of the Premier League ahead of his team`s clash with West Ham on Saturday.
Coutinho was given some rough treatment in Liverpool`s 1-0 defeat to Aston Villa at Anfield last weekend which appeared to knock him off his game.
But Rodgers claimed the diminutive Brazilian playmaker can deal with that aspect of the game ahead of another potentially tough afternoon against the Hammers at Upton Park.
"I don`t think it`s a question now if he can cope with the demands of the Premier League," Rodgers said.
"He`s been here 18 months and has been absolutely brilliant. You only need to measure him since he`s been in and look at the big games where he`s been absolutely brilliant.
"But there`s no doubt he has the pace, power and strength for the Premier League.
"I`ve got no qualms about him; he`s a big, big talent. He has lit up the Premier League since he came to the club.
"He`s going to have some games where he won`t be at his best, but he always gives his best and that`s all I ever ask of the players.
"The kid is a great boy who wants to do well. He`s very conscious that I have absolutely no doubts about him."
Liverpool are boosted by the return of centre-back Martin Skrtel after a knee injury, while right-back Glen Johnson is also poised to return to training after a hip problem, although Saturday`s game is likely to be too soon for him.
The Reds are still without striker Daniel Sturridge (thigh), midfielders Joe Allen (knee) and Emre Can (ankle) and defender Jon Flanagan (knee).
Rodgers added: "Martin is back training with the team, which is great news for us. Glen should be back training over the course of the weekend.
"Daniel Sturridge should hopefully be back training at some point next week. Joe Allen is still out and he`ll be out for a few weeks yet."
Meanwhile, West Ham manager Sam Allardyce admits to having mixed feelings about the departure of Luis Suarez from Liverpool.
Allardyce is relieved his side do not have to face the Uruguay international this weekend.
But he also feels Suarez`s switch to Barcelona has had a detrimental effect on the Premier League as a whole.
"From a selfish point of view, I am glad he has gone. From a Premier League overall view, no," Allardyce said.
"He`s a player you want to keep in this country and play in this country. There has been a huge amount of talent brought by Liverpool on the back of that fee.
"It looks like they took a stand on the basis that it was time to sell him after the troubles he has had.
"He is sorely missed in terms of his talent but, obviously with him not playing against us. We are rather glad about that."
West Ham have lost both their league games at Upton Park this season but secured a hard-fought 2-2 draw at Hull last time out in a game marked by an outstanding debut goal for Ecuador forward Enner Valencia.
"We brought nine players in this summer, similar to Liverpool," Allardyce said.
"When you try and integrate them into the team it`s difficult because we don`t know everybody`s strengths and weaknesses yet.
"We got a decent result on Monday against Hull having come back from goals down twice.
"We`re in a good frame of mind, the players always look forward to the big games."
West Ham remain without midfielder Kevin Nolan (shoulder), full-back Joey O`Brien (knee) and striker Andy Carroll (foot) who are all long-term absentees, while winger Matt Jarvis will have a fitness test on a thigh complaint.