Feb 06, 2015

    Coutinho can fill Suarez vacuum: Rodgers


    LIVERPOOL manager Brendan Rodgers believes Philippe Coutinho can scale the same heights as Luis Suarez, after the Brazilian's stunning injury-time winner against Bolton Wanderers secured their place in the FA Cup fifth round with a hard-fought 2-1 victory.

    The Reds had looked to be heading out of the competition with four minutes left during their fourth-round replay at the Macron Stadium, after Eidur Gudjohnsen put second-tier side Bolton ahead from the penalty spot.

    But Raheem Sterling equalised before Coutinho - who has signed a new contract that will keep him at Anfield until 2020 - produced a sublime finish from 25m which gave Bolton goalkeeper Andrew Lonergan no chance.

    Uruguay striker Suarez inspired Liverpool's Premier League title challenge last season, with 31 goals in 33 matches, to wide acclaim before he left for Barcelona in July, and the Liverpool boss claims that 22-year-old Coutinho could follow in Suarez's footsteps.

    "You would just pay money to watch that kid," Rodgers said.

    "He is a great role model for lots of technical players in this country, young British players that for maybe many years would have been discarded because they were technically good but not as big a stature.

    "Philippe will become world class in the next couple of years. Luis Suarez was at a level, then he played in this team and grew and grew with the model and went into the world-class bracket, and I can see him (following) in the same sort of way.

    "He might not be as prolific as Suarez was, but he is certainly on the way to that at Liverpool. He is a wonderful, wonderful player. Signing a new deal shows he is really committed to Liverpool and his development."

    The Reds' victory, in Steven Gerrard's 700th career appearance, ensured they kept alive the dream of the captain lifting the FA Cup in his final act with the club, before he leaves for Major League Soccer outfit Los Angeles Galaxy when his contract expires.

    Rodgers claimed that even though his side trailed to Gudjohnsen's penalty, conceded by Martin Skrtel for a foul on Zach Clough, he always felt they would progress to face Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park in the next round.

    "At 1-0, I expected us to win it. The confidence at the moment is very high," added Rodgers.

    "Our composure to falling behind was very good. We scored two, could have had many more.

    "We have got a great habit at the minute, which is winning games. You can't question the character.

    "It is a great thing to face Palace again. We didn't play anywhere near the level in our defeat...earlier in the campaign.

    "That was the lowest moment of the season in terms of performance levels. We go back there in a different frame of mind and with big confidence."