LONDON • Philippe Coutinho is proving invaluable to Liverpool as they attempt to secure Champions League qualification and his return to full health is crucial as they travel to West Bromwich Albion today.
The Brazilian has scored in each of Liverpool's last three matches, yet arguably should not have been involved at all as they won at Stoke City last Saturday.
He had been suffering with illness in the days leading up to that game, but was still named as a substitute. And with Liverpool trailing 1-0, he came on to score an equaliser that set up a 2-1 victory.
Fellow forward Roberto Firmino got the winner, having himself started on the bench to be given a rest after a hectic recent schedule.
With leading scorer Sadio Mane recovering from knee surgery that has ended his season prematurely, and Adam Lallana also sidelined, Coutinho and Firmino have become Liverpool's main source of goals.
Manager Jurgen Klopp is set to name both Brazilians in the starting line-up at the Hawthorns as Liverpool seek a fifth win in seven matches.
Sitting six points clear of Manchester United, who have two games in hand, Liverpool cannot afford to ease off as they eye a top-four finish.
And Klopp insists his Brazilian stars should not be expected to single-handedly secure Champions League qualification.
"It's very important that players can play together, but if they are only two then it's pretty difficult," he said. "That they are really, really good friends helps us a lot.
"That they play together in the Brazil national team helps us. That they are both so unbelievably skilled helps us a lot.
"But, again, if they tried to do it alone, no chance."
Since reaching their initial target of 40 points in late-February, West Brom have collected just four points from six games.
But senior players have spoken about taking the side, on 44 points, to 50 points for the first time in a Premier League season.
Manager Tony Pulis said: "The target is to get as many points as we can. And we want the players to go out and put good performances in. It's going to be a really tough game because they have a lot to play for.
"We've got to make sure we are resilient and when we get the ball we've got to play through the pitch quickly."
WEST BROM V LIVERPOOL
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