Liverpool have been given an update on the fitness of Philippe Coutinho ahead of their Premier League clash with Southampton on 18 November, after the influential playmaker departed for international duty.
Coutinho had responded well to an ugly summer transfer saga involving a potential move to Barcelona that saw him submit a transfer request, although was forced to miss the Reds' recent three convincing victories over Huddersfield Town, Maribor and West Ham United due to an adductor injury sustained in training that followed a recurring bout of back problems.
The 25-year-old had already been named in the Brazil squad for an upcoming friendly double-header, however, and joined up with his Selecao teammates earlier this week as planned.
Team doctor Rodrigo Lasmar has now revealed that Coutinho is unlikely to be deployed by manager Tite on Friday as the top Conmebol World Cup qualifiers take on Japan in Lille, with Brazil focusing instead on getting him ready for the meeting with England at Wembley Stadium four days later.
"Coutinho had a muscle injury in the adductor of the left thigh," Lasmar confirmed to Brazilian publication Globo Esporte. "He is in the final phase of recovery. We knew that he would not be fully fit, but we chose to make his final recovery with us.
"The possibility of him playing against Japan is remote, but we are working to make sure he's available against England. He may not be able to participate [against Japan]. If he can, he could be on the bench and play for a few minutes.
"But it's a small chance. Our focus is to get him back for the second game."
Globo Esporte state that Coutinho – plus Liverpool colleague Roberto Firmino and Manchester City midfielder Fernandinho – was one of 11 players who partook in gym work only on Monday, with Lasmar suggesting that the physical exercises will increase in intensity on Tuesday. If all goes well, he is expected to start training with a ball again tomorrow.
Coutinho's involvement with Brazil would surely give rise to hopes that he will be in a position to feature for Liverpool against Southampton at Anfield in 11 days time. Jurgen Klopp recently welcomed Sadio Mane back from a hamstring injury ahead of schedule, while Adam Lallana – yet to play at all in 2017-18 as the result of a thigh problem – is also expected to return to contention after the international break.
However, captain Jordan Henderson did not play in the 4-1 win at West Ham because of his own thigh complaint and reports suggest that he could follow Tottenham Hotspur trio Dele Alli, Harry Kane and Harry Winks to become the latest high-profile withdrawal from Gareth Southgate's England squad for games against Germany and Brazil.
Right-back Nathaniel Clyne has suffered a setback in his recovery from a long-term back injury, while goalkeepers Danny Ward and Adam Bogdan are still out.