Thursday 14 December 2017

Klopp hands chance to youngsters

Injured: Philippe Coutinho. Photo: PA
Injured: Philippe Coutinho. Photo: PA

Carl Markham

Liverpool may be in the midst of a genuine title challenge but manager Jurgen Klopp insists that the players will not need a rocket to get them going for the FA Cup.

The Reds are second in the Premier League, five points behind Chelsea, and have a two-legged EFL Cup semi-final against Southampton this month; and even though there will be plenty of changes for today's visit of League Two Plymouth, Klopp is confident no extra motivation will be needed.

"Whatever I could say is not good enough if the players don't want it," said the German. "These players want to have success, these players want to take each chance they can get. That made it pretty easy for me.

"It's not like I do something like (set off) a firework before cup games and say 'We have no chance to win the Premier League so we have to find another way'.

"That's not how it is, we don't think like this. We really want to win football games and until now it worked well.

"When we came together in June and thought about the season and the ideas we had, the plan we had, the dreams we had - not that we had the biggest dreams - we thought we could play a good season.

"When you then finish the first half of the season there is no time to celebrate or think about it because two days later there's another game.

"It's always an opportunity, it's always a nice chance and that's how we see it with all the cup competitions.

"Now we play FA Cup third round and you know better than I do it's an historical tournament and we will try everything to win it.

"Then, we play the first leg of the semi-final in Southampton, that's not an easy game, so that's all pretty exciting and we look forward to it."

After a gruelling festive programme, which saw Liverpool play their last two matches within the space of 45 hours, Klopp is likely to rest most of his first-choice players.

Playmaker Philippe Coutinho and defender Joel Matip (both ankle), captain Jordan Henderson (heel) and James Milner (calf) will all miss the game,as will top scorer Sadio Mane, who is away with Senegal at the African Nations Cup.

That presents an opportunity for the youngsters whom Klopp has been nurturing in short spells over the first half of the season to show they can provide suitable cover.

"It makes absolute sense," said the former Borussia Dortmund manager. "It's not because of the last game (the 2-2 draw at Southampton) but maybe the next game in this case.

"I am pretty sure we will see a few fresh legs on the pitch. Look at our squad - pretty much all of them who have not been involved that much in the last few games are pretty young so when we want to rotate, it's logical (they could play).

"Before the season a lot of questions were asked about the squad and we were convinced about the quality. We had a lot of problems with injuries and stuff like this but we coped with it and that was all absolutely okay. That's what we have to do again."

  • Liverpool v Plymouth Argyle, BT Sport 2, 1.30

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