Could Klopp rest 11 Liverpool players for Exeter City FA Cup tie?


With Liverpool crippled by injuries and Arsenal and Man United to visit Anfield next week, we take a look at whether Jurgen Klopp could make 11 changes against Exeter City.

STOKE-ON-TRENT, ENGLAND - Tuesday, January 5, 2016: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp during the Football League Cup Semi-Final 1st Leg match against Stoke City at the Britannia Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The Reds’ 1-0 win over Stoke City on Tuesday evening represented a much-needed return to form for Klopp’s side but the victory came at a cost.

Philippe Coutinho and Dejan Lovren both hobbled off with hamstring injuries in the first half, meaning Liverpool now have 11 members of the first-team squad on the sidelines.

Exeter are the Reds’ next opponents, in the FA Cup third round on Friday, and it is followed by crucial home Premier League games against Arsenal and Man United.

Klopp must surely be thinking of making a number of changes against The Grecians, but he will also be aware that fielding too many youngsters could be asking for a cup shock.

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How many alterations to Tuesday’s XI can he realistically make?

Goalkeeper – Rest Mignolet, bring in Bogdan

WATFORD, ENGLAND - Sunday, December 20, 2015: Liverpool's goalkeeper Adam Bogdan looks dejected as Watford score from his mistake during the Premier League match at Vicarage Road. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Goalkeepers suffer from tiredness the least, in fairness, but it still won’t do Simon Mignolet any harm giving him a night off.

Bogdan can fill in for the Belgian, and will hope to bounce back from his shaky last appearance away to Watford – a game he actually wasn’t that bad in after the early clanger.

Right-Back – Rest Clyne, bring in Randall

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, October 28, 2015: Liverpool's Connor Randall n action against AFC Bournemouth during the Football League Cup 4th Round match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Nathaniel Clyne‘s form has suffered slightly in recent weeks, and it is no surprise when you consider how much football he has played this season.

The 24-year-old simply must be left out against Exeter, and Connor Randall has shown already in 2015/16 that he can be a reliable deputy if needed.

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Centre-Backs – No options, play Toure and Lucas

Mamadou Sakho, Martin Skrtel and Lovren are now all out injured, while Kolo Toure suffered cramp at the end of the Stoke game.

There are no other centre-backs available to Klopp, so playing Toure alongside Lucas Leiva is the only option. Even Sakho were available, it’s not worth risking him for this.

Left-Back – Rest Moreno, bring in Smith

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Thursday, December 10, 2015: Liverpool's Brad Smith in action against FC Sion's Vincent Ruefli during the UEFA Europa League Group Stage Group B match at Stade de Tourbillon. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Much like Clyne, Alberto Moreno has been an almost ever-present for Liverpool this season and desperately needs to recharge his batteries.

Brad Smith has produced a few impressive cameos in recent times, and against opposition of Exeter’s calibre, he should thrive.

Midfield – Milner, Brannagan & Teixeira all to come in

Emre Can has been the Reds’ standout player in the last four or five matches, and considering the workload he has got through in Liverpool’s midfield, he needs a night off. The German has made more appearances this season than any other player.

Joe Allen was arguably man of the match against Stoke, and while he hasn’t played much football of late, it seems a needless risk playing him, when he may be needed against Arsenal and United.

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James Milner was launched into an earlier-than-expected return on Tuesday, following Lovren’s injury, but a first start in almost a month will do him good.

The 30-year-old’s experience will be a good foil for youngsters Cameron Brannagan and Joao Teixeira, who both shone against Bournemouth in the League Cup earlier this season.

Attack – Rest Firmino & Lallana, start Benteke, Kent and Ibe

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Tuesday, December 9, 2014: Liverpool's Ryan Kent in action against FC Basel during the UEFA Youth League Group B match at Langtree Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Coutinho’s injury rules him out of the Exeter game, but even if the Brazilian was fit, he would likely have been rested anyway.

It makes total sense for both Roberto Firmino and Adam Lallana not to start, as Klopp keeps them fresh for more important games.

Christian Benteke only featured briefly against Stoke, so will surely begin proceedings on Friday, while match-winning hero Jordon Ibe was also a substitute and should start.

The return of highly-rated youngster Ryan Kent has caused some excitement, with Klopp ending the Englishman’s loan spell at Coventry City because he wanted him back at Liverpool.

The 19-year-old produced some eye-catching performances in pre-season, and if reports are to be believed, he will make a surprise Reds debut on Friday evening. He is definitely one to watch.


STOKE-ON-TRENT, ENGLAND - Tuesday, January 5, 2016: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp celebrates after his side's 1-0 victory over Stoke City during the Football League Cup Semi-Final 1st Leg match at the Britannia Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

In truth, it is almost impossible for Klopp to alter his entire team from Tuesday’s win over Stoke, purely because of this current injury crisis.

Toure and Lucas look like they have to be the Reds’ centre-back pairing, as was the case for much of proceedings at the Britannia Stadium, but otherwise the German can make alterations in every other position.

It certainly won’t be a strong side by any means, with Randall, Smith, Brannagan, Teixeira and Kent all still unproven, and they will have to play well to overcome Exeter.

This is a risk Klopp has to take, though, if his side are to be fresh enough to thrive against both Arsenal and United.

Possible LFC starting XI vs. Exeter City: Bogdan, Randall, Toure, Lucas, Smith, Milner, Brannagan, Teixeira, Ibe, Kent, Benteke.

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