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Saturday 16 December 2017

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers: Philippe Coutinho can become our Toni Kroos

Philippe Coutinho of Liverpool
Philippe Coutinho of Liverpool
Germany's Toni Kroos

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers believes Philippe Coutinho has all the attributes to become a playmaker similar to Real Madrid duo Luka Modric and Toni Kroos.

Over the last couple of months the Brazil international, who signed a new long-term contract which runs until the summer of 2020 on Tuesday, has enjoyed arguably his best spell since arriving at Anfield in the 2013 January transfer window.

His threat around goal could improve - the 22-year-old has scored just twice and provided four assists this season - but Rodgers is not concerned if he develops into a player like either of those currently running the midfield of the reigning European champions.

"If you look at that type of player he is, you look at Modric," the Reds boss said.

Read More: Philippe Coutinho signs up to Liverpool until 2020

"He doesn't have a big goalscoring record, but he is a world-class player, a continuity player.

"He can make passes and put the ball in behind and he gets the odd goal from outside the box. He is a top-class player who can create the game who is so important in opening up doors for the team.

"Toni Kroos is another of that type; a wonderful footballer and great passer.

Read More: Rodgers hails mental toughness of Adam Lallana ahead of Bolton clash

"They maybe don't get as many goals for what their technique is, but their role is to sit behind the ball and create goals for others.

"Their role is not to score 20 a season. Phil's numbers will improve, but it is not the be all and end all if he doesn't get 20 a season."

Coutinho could well be rested for Liverpool's FA Cup fourth-round replay at Bolton on Wednesday.

The Trotters earned a replay at the Macron Stadium by holding Liverpool to a goalless draw at Anfield, and boss Neil Lennon hopes it will be an uncomfortable evening for Rodgers' side.

He said: "These games don't come around often so the players have to first of all try to enjoy it but do themselves justice. We still feel we have a chance of winning the tie, more so because we're at home now.

"We're hoping we'll be able to create a few more chances and put Liverpool under pressure. We want the stadium to be bouncing. We want it to be as intimidating for Liverpool as it can get."

Fit-again Liverpool forward Daniel Sturridge returns to the club where he had a very successful loan spell in 2011, but Bolton fans will be hoping their new striking hero can steal the show.

Nineteen-year-old Zach Clough has scored three goals in his first two appearances for the Trotters, and Lennon knows the hype is building.

He said: "I don't want to talk too much about Zach because everyone's asking about him and I don't want to build him up into something that he might never be.

"But he's a very good young player and he's made a tremendous start to his career."