Phil Thompson: This Liverpool star is key despite Daniel Sturridge return

Phil Thompson underlines Philippe Coutinho's importance to Liverpool despite Daniel Sturridge's return

Phil Thompson has singled out Philippe Coutinho for praise after his return was overshadowed by Daniel Sturridge’s first start since October at Villa Park on Sunday.

The England striker broke the deadlock in Liverpool’s impressive 6-0 win against Premier League strugglers Aston Villa.

Coutinho was also restored to Jurgen Klopp’s starting line-up for the first time since injuring his hamstring in Liverpool’s 1-0 win at Stoke City in the League Cup in January.

Christian Benteke and Roberto Firmino are Liverpool’s top scorers with six so far this season, while Coutinho has netted five Premier League goals.

Former Liverpool captain Thomspon underlined the continued importance of the Brazil international.

“Much of the hype was around Sturridge at Villa Park, but Coutinho was as important with that creative spark in the final third, while Roberto Firmino looks like he’s got used to the Premier League now and his performances have been very good,” Thompson told Sky Sports.

“The movement between the front three was terrific and they’ve got to be very confident right now.”

Coutinho, 23, has scored five times and has made five assists in 18 Premier League games in an injury-hit season so far.

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The South American moved to the 18-time English champions in a £8.5m deal from Serie A side Inter Milan in January 2013.

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