Liverpool coach Klopp to return to a full-strength team in FA Cup
London — Liverpool’s regulars are set to return to the starting line-up for Tuesday’s FA Cup clash at Chelsea after the Anfield club fielded their under-23 players in the previous round, manager Jurgen Klopp says.
Liverpool’s under-23 side, led by former coach Neil Critchley, beat third-tier side Shrewsbury Town in a fourth-round replay after Klopp decided not to field senior players because the match was played during the Premier League’s winter break.
Liverpool also fielded a young side in the League Cup against Aston Villa — a game they lost — due to a fixture crunch while the senior side won the Club World Cup in Qatar. Klopp said he would take no chances as they looked to progress.
“It’s a different situation to the last round. The team that played at Shrewsbury was a team that made sense for us at that moment. We didn’t get the result we wanted, so we had to play a different team in the replay,” Klopp told reporters.
“It won’t be the team that played Aston Villa and Shrewsbury, for sure. There will be boys in the squad, but if they start we will see. The team that played at Shrewsbury was an FA Cup team at that moment.
“If Chelsea make changes, I don’t know if they will, it will still be a very experienced team ... it’s the last-16 of the FA Cup and we want to go through.”
A 3-0 loss at Watford over the weekend ended Liverpool’s unbeaten Premier League run and many criticised centreback Dejan Lovren for giving their strikers opportunities to score but Klopp was quick to jump to his defence.
“If anyone blames Dejan Lovren for our defeat, I can’t help these people,” Klopp said. “It was a massive challenge for Dejan to play against Troy Deeney. Joe Gomez has had similar problems.
“Both Dejan and Joe have played sensational games for us in this position. Fitness and rhythm is the most difficult to get in professional football. Dejan is an outstanding centrehalf.
“If you can tell me one player from Saturday that played at his normal level, I would be surprised.”
However, Klopp said the performance at Vicarage Road would have no bearing on team selection for the trip to Stamford Bridge.
“The defeat has nothing to do with the line-up tomorrow night,” he said. “We always play with a team which gives us the best chance to reach the next round.”
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