Jürgen Klopp

'Cup Tie A Chance For Klopp To Give Young Players More Experience'

Jürgen Klopp may utilise Liverpool's impressive academy options during Wednesday's Carabao Cup tie against Leicester City at Anfield, says The Athletic's James Pearce.
More on this story...

- Liverpool host Leicester City in the quarter-finals of the Carabao Cup on Wednesday
- The 7:45pm kick-off comes amid several COVID-19-related issues at both clubs
- The Athletic's James Pearce expects there to be changes to the Reds' starting XI
- Fans can tune into live coverage from 6:15pm on Matchday Live on LCFC Radio

The Reds manager's options will be limited on Merseyside this week as the club responds to COVID-19 issues, like many of their Premier League counterparts, with young midfielder Tyler Morton notably starting the 2-2 draw at Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday.

However, over recent seasons, Klopp has often named much-changed line-ups in the Carabao Cup irrespective of which round ties fall under as Liverpool go in hunt of major honours in the Premier League and the UEFA Champions League. They host Leicester in the Carabao Cup's final-eight on Wednesday. 

"It’s such a fast-moving situation so it’s difficult to predict what will happen between now and the game," Pearce told LCFC Radio's Matchday Live show, which starts at 6:15pm on Wednesday. "Certainly, at the moment, Liverpool have had four players test positive as we talk now. I think it’ll be a real mixed bag.

"It goes without saying that the Carabao Cup is the lower of the priorities for Liverpool this season. They’re bang in a title race that looks like it’s going to be fought out between them and Man City at the moment.

"Certainly, Klopp will have one eye on those two Premier League games over Christmas against Leeds and Leicester. It’ll be a chance to give young players more experience and they also have got senior players on the fringes who need minutes.

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Tyler Morton
Tyler Morton

Tyler Morton, 19, could feature in midfield after also starring at Tottenham over the weekend.

"There definitely would have been changes anyway because that’s the way [Klopp] has always approached things. I don’t think the fact we’re now in the quarter-finals stage will really change things, especially with where this game lands, just before such a hectic run over Christmas.

"Klopp was quite a vocal advocate for the Premier League knocking on the head the round of games between 28-29 December. Liverpool, like a lot of clubs, are having to operate with a smaller squad at the moment.

"When you’re having to play twice in the space of 48 hours, that’s a big ask when you can’t rotate as much. Klopp’s dilemma is in midfield. The midfield that started at Tottenham in the Premier League would probably have been the midfield he would have played in the Carabao Cup.

"It had Tyler Morton, a young academy graduate, and then James Milner and Naby Keïta in there. They’ve been very short of minutes. It just so happens, with the COVID cases, it’s Liverpool’s midfield department that’s been decimated. He hasn’t got too many options to change it."

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Neco Williams and Kostas Tsimikas are just some of the players who Pearce believes could feature for the Reds against Leicester this week. After that tie at Anfield, Liverpool then host Leeds United on Boxing Day before travelling to King Power Stadium two days later.

"I think probably Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will come back into contention," he added. "He wasn’t involved at Tottenham because it would’ve been his fourth start in the space of 11 or 12 days. 

"Someone like Takumi Minamino could certainly do with the minutes. Neco Williams and Kostas Tsimikas will probably come in at full-back. You’ve got Joe Gomez, who could do with some minutes too, but [Klopp’s] options are pretty limited at the moment."

Klopp does have attacking options that he could bring in, although the concern is, when you’re having to chop and change, it’s probably not realistic that you’re going to have the fluency you’d really appreciate.

James Pearce The Athletic

Pearce says Minamino, the Japan international who signed from Red Bull Salzburg in 2020, will likely view an outing against Leicester as an opportunity to shine. With the Africa Cup of Nations potentially meaning Sadio Mané and Mo Salah are absent in January, Minamino's talents could be essential. 

"For someone like Minamino, it could be a really big night for him," Pearce explained. "He’s been very short of game time and, of course, there’s so much uncertainty for everyone at the moment and part of that for Klopp is whether AFCON is going to go ahead.

"At the moment, the noises coming out from the organisers is that it’s still all systems go. If Klopp’s going to be without Sadio Mané and Mo Salah for January, then someone like Minamino is going to be really, really important to him. We’ll certainly see a sprinkling of youth talent in there as well.

"Kaide Gordon is a really exciting, attacking player. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if he’s involved in this game. He was involved in the earlier rounds.

"Klopp does have attacking options that he could bring in, although the concern is, when you’re having to chop and change, it’s probably not realistic that you’re going to have the fluency you’d really appreciate. It’ll be a full house at Anfield and it’s certainly not a game that gets in the way for Liverpool.

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Takumi Minamino
Takumi Minamino

Striker Takumi Minamino is another option for Jürgen Klopp against the Foxes on Wednesday.

"For those players who are on the teamsheet, they will view it as a fantastic opportunity to stake a claim for a greater role over a busy period."

Klopp has won the Premier League, UEFA Champions League, UEFA Super Cup and the FIFA Club World Cup over his six years at Anfield - but none of the domestic knockout competitions on offer. Pearce, though, doesn't believe this is perceived too negatively considering the German's other successes. 

"All supporters get greedy and they want to try and compete on all fronts, but I haven’t heard too many moans and groans about Liverpool’s record in the domestic cups under Klopp, mainly because they’ve won and competed for much bigger prizes," he said.

"They had back-to-back Champions League Final appearances and won that competition in 2019. Obviously, for Liverpool, the absolute holy grail was winning the Premier League title in 2020. The hopes of defending the title last season were pretty much wrecked by an unprecedented defensive injury crisis.

"When the domestic cups come around and Liverpool have fallen short, it just raises a debate about whether they do have sufficient depth, but regardless of what happens in this tie, people will look at the bigger picture.

"Certainly, with the number of players that are missing at the minute, Klopp is pretty limited in terms of what he can do."

All times GMT.




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