Philippe Coutinho's departure from Liverpool has made Adam Lallana a "really important player" for Liverpool, according to the former Reds striker Neil Mellor.

The Brazil international left the Merseyside club and switched over to Barcelona in the first week of the January transfer window. He was one of the key players for Liverpool in their attack, along with Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino.

Lallana, on the other hand, has struggled with injuries this season. He has made only one start in the Premier League this term. Mellor believes the former Southampton midfielder can play a vital link between his side's midfield and attack and has stressed why it is important to include the 29-year-old in his starting lineup.

"The Porto win was superb and feels like ages ago now. It's always difficult to make changes after that sort of performance but for me this could be the perfect time to see Adam Lallana return to the starting line-up," Mellor told the Liverpool Echo.

"Even more so with the departure of Philippe Coutinho I think he's a really important player for Liverpool. He can offer a creative spark and a link between the midfield and attack as he gets back to full fitness.

"The break since the Porto game will probably have done him more good than any other player. Let's hope he's as sharp as his new haircut."

"The front three have been special for Liverpool and it's difficult to see how much better they can get but I think Lallana can make them even better."

Klopp started James Milner, Jordan Henderson and Georginio Wijnaldum in the midfield as Liverpool sealed a 5-0 away win over Porto in the first leg of the Champions League last tie. Mellor wants the former Borussia Dortmund manager to drop the Dutchman for Lallana when Liverpool take on West Ham United in the Premier League clash on 24 February.

"Who drops out? All three did really well in Porto but maybe it's Gini Wijnaldum this time as Jordan Henderson and James Milner give you so much as a pair," he said.

"I just feel as though Adam Lallana, as frustrating as it's been for him this season, can still come into the side and have a decent impact. This could be the perfect game to give him that opportunity.

"He'll be pushing for a start, he's back fully fit, he's chomping at the bit to get out there again and a home game against a West Ham side who have struggled away from home this season could be ideal.

"I think the crowd would react to someone like Lallana coming back and would give everyone a huge boost, not that we need one we're flying and the momentum is back after those defeats against Swansea and West Brom."

Adam Lallana
Adam Lallana has made only one start to his name in the Premier League this Getty