Philippe Coutinho is closing in on a return to Liverpool's Premier League starting XI for the first time in almost two months after impressing Jurgen Klopp in the win over Plymouth Argyle.

Coutinho, 24, suffered an ankle injury in a Premier League clash with Sunderland on 26 November, an injury that ruled him out for the entire festive period.

The Brazil international returned to action in the EFL Cup semi-final first leg against Southampton after six-and-a-half weeks on the sidelines, coming off the bench for the remaining half hour. Against Manchester United on Sunday (15 January), Jurgen Klopp opted to leave the playmaker on the bench again, calling upon him in the final third of the match.

After being handed a started role on Wednesday in the club's FA Cup third round replay, Coutinho lasted 65 minutes before he was replaced by Harry Wilson with his countryman Lucas Leiva having already scored the game's only goal. His contribution pleased Klopp, who felt the contest was the "perfect intensity" to measure his fitness.

The Liverpool boss told the club's website: "[Coutinho] was good. Actually, I expected you to ask me about Lucas! I'm happy, really happy. It was very important for us. I thought 60-65 minutes was the perfect intensity for today. Good for him and good for us."

Philippe Coutinho
Coutinho lasted just over an hour against Plymouth in what what was his first start in nearly two months Reuters

Coutinho will now hope to retain his place in the starting XI when Liverpool host bottom side Swansea City at Anfield on Saturday.

His return will be much welcomed with Sadio Mane unavailable due to his participation in the Africa Cup of Nations. Liverpool could be without the former Southampton star until after the 5 February, should Senegal reach the final of the competition.