Philippe Coutinho was back in Barcelona training on Tuesday as he steps up his recovery from a hamstring injury. The Brazilian has been out since the Clasico defeat to Real Madrid but could be fit in time for Barca’s trip to Atletico Madrid.
Barca had just 10 players in training on Tuesday, with most of the squad away on international duty, and Coutinho joined in the session at the Ciutat Esportiva but worked out alone, according to Javier Miguel at AS.
The club are hoping Coutinho will be fit enough to rejoin full training next week with Koeman’s men set to return to action at the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium on November 21.
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Coutinho to Replace Ansu?
Koeman will be particularly keen to have Coutinho available again after losing teenage forward Ansu Fati to injury. The 18-year-old underwent knee surgery on Monday and has been ruled out for four months.
The news is a big blow to Barca as the youngster had started the season well, scoring five goals and contributing two assists in 10 appearances in all competitions for the Catalan giants.
Coutinho is one of several players tipped to replace the Spain international in Koeman’s starting XI. Ousmane Dembele, Francisco Trincao, Pedri, and even reserve winger Konrad de la Fuente are also in contention.
Can Coutinho Replicate Early Season Form?
Yet if Coutinho can replicate his early-season form then he stands a good chance of getting the nod. The 28-year-old picked up assists in the wins over Villarreal and Getafe and scored against Sevilla and Ferencvaros in the Champions League.
Koeman has spoken about why the Brazilian had started his second spell at Barcelona so well after watching him impress in the Catalan giants’ first two games of the new campaign.
That’s a good question and the answer is easy, he’s a really good player. What’s more, he’s a player who learned a lot in England, a great deal at Bayern in terms of work. My job as a coach is to get the best out of each player. And that starts with putting the player in the position they play best. I think that gives them greater confidence. You can only start with the quality the player has and Coutinho is a great player.
Certainly Barca will need to be at their best if they are to inflict a first league defeat of the season on Atletico. Diego Simeone’s side have started the season well and are already six points ahead of Barcelona in the table.
Koeman will not want his men to fall further behind Atleti and the team will head into the match after a morale-boosting 5-2 victory over Real Betis at the Camp Nou last time out. The international break and Fati’s injury will no doubt disrupt Koeman’s preparations but he will be glad to welcome Coutinho back for such an important fixture.