Philippe Coutinho will not be given an instant recall to Liverpool’s team after Jurgen Klopp explained the Brazilian is short of fitness.
Liverpool’s No 10, who was the subject of persistent interest and failed bids from Barcelona through the transfer window, has not pulled on a Red shirt since playing in a friendly against Bayern Munich on August 1.
He missed the start of the season with a back problem but appeared in Brazil’s two World Cup qualifiers during the international break, scoring in the win over Ecuador.
Liverpool paid for his swift return from South America by laying on a private jet for him and Roberto Firmino.
Klopp spoke with Coutinho at Melwood when he returned to the club’s training facility.
The manager insists his absence from the starting line-up at the Etihad Stadium has nothing to do with him handing in a transfer request but it is because the 25-year-old lacks the physical edge of others.
‘I know what people think but Phil had the back problem a few weeks ago and couldn’t train so that means he missed around about three weeks,’ said Klopp.
‘Yes, he went to the national team and trained normally, but now we have to prepare for a normal season.
‘So we have seven games (before the next international break); we saw (him) in training and thought “OK! Maybe we should use him immediately” – he was really good.
‘But that doesn’t make sense. We have now to continue with (his) pre-season. Not too long, but a few sessions.’