Liverpool open their pre-season schedule on Friday night, with a trip to local neighbours Tranmere Rovers first up for Jurgen Klopp’s side.
Tranmere vs. Liverpool
Friday 8th July 2016, 7:00pm (BST)
Live on LFCTV
After a summer of reflection at Anfield, the Reds make a welcome return to action as they kick off the first of nine friendlies against the National League side.
The game opens a busy schedule for Klopp’s squad, who will focus on easing their way back in and improving fitness against the local outfit.
The match will be the first of four domestic games for Liverpool, before heading to the US for three matches which includes two International Champions Cup fixtures.
Prenton Park & Previous Meetings
Prenton Park has been Tranmere’s home for over 100 years and is impressive for a fifth-tier side, boasting a capacity of just over 16,500.
Playing there will see a return to familiar territory for certain staff and younger Reds involved, with it previously the ‘home’ ground for Liverpool’s reserve and youth sides.
This is perhaps the case for goalkeeper coach John Achterberg more than most, with the former stopper making 351 appearances during 11 years with Rovers.
The Reds visit for the first time since 2008 on Friday night, with Rafa Benitez’s men started preparations for the 08/09 campaign on that occasion, as a strong team won 1-0 thanks to Yossi Benayoun.
That visit came seven years after the most recent competitive game between the clubs, and undoubtedly the most thrilling, in the 2001 FA Cup run.
Gerard Houllier’s men eventually won an entertaining cup tie 4-2, with goals from Danny Murphy, Michael Owen, Steven Gerrard and Robbie Fowler proving enough to overcome a Rovers side managed by Anfield legend John Aldridge.
Klopp will hope for a more straightforward outing in Liverpool’s opening friendly clash.
Klopp is likely to take most of the squad currently training to Tranmere, meaning a strong group will feature.
The likes of Dejan Lovren, Alberto Moreno, Jon Flanagan, Lucas Leiva, Danny Ings and Roberto Firmino are all set to be involved, but Mamadou Sakho may miss out due to his UEFA drugs ban hearing on Thursday.
With Klopp giving three weeks off to international participants from the day involvement finishes, the Reds will be without 13 regulars.
Joe Allen, Danny Ward and Emre Can are missing due to their late involvement at Euro 2016, while Sheyi Ojo is involved with the England under-19s, meaning the quartet are likely to miss parts of the US tour.
Klopp is therefore likely to hand opportunities to those hoping to force their way into his plans.
Returned loanees Andre Wisdom, Luis Alberto, Lazar Markovic and Mario Balotelli will be looking to prove their worth, while Kevin Stewart, Cameron Brannagan, Ryan Kent, and Connor Randall could all feature.
Wingers Ibe and Sergi Canos may not feature, with their Liverpool futures up in the air.
As the opening pre-season game, Klopp is likely to heavily rotate his side throughout the game to give as many players as possible some minutes, which could see separate lineups in each half.
Likely Liverpool squad vs. Tranmere Rovers: Karius, Bogdan, Fulton, Alexander-Arnold, Flanagan, Randall, Lovren, Matip, Ilori, Moreno, Smith, Wisdom, Lucas, Stewart, Alberto, Brannagan, Chirivella, Allan, Grujic, Ejaria, Markovic, Firmino, Mane, Ings, Balotelli, Woodburn
Friday’s clash will also be the opening pre-season game for Tranmere, who are preparing for their second season in the Conference.
Having missed out on a play-off campaign last season, Rovers’ preparations will centre around promotion and a Football League return, two years after their 94-year stay came to end.
Experienced manager Gary Brabin, who enters his second year in charge, is the man behind ensuring it happens.
Intent has already been signalled with new arrivals in Darren Stephenson from Chorley and proven goalscorers Connor Jennings and Andy Cook from Wrexham and Barrow respectively.
Meanwhile, academy products Tolani Omotola, Sam Ilesanmi and Daren Askew have all signed their first professional deals.
The signings of Jennings and Cook strengthens an attack which features main man James Norwood, who was Rovers’ top scorer last season with 21 goals.
Midfielder Steven Jennings, now in his third spell with Tranmere, is also a big player for Brabin’s side, while imposing centre-back Steve McNulty will stand in the way of Liverpool starting pre-season positively.
Tranmere returned to pre-season six days before Liverpool, with their league campaign starting a week earlier, meaning a testing run-out awaits.
A big crowd is expected on Friday, but tickets are still available from the 5,300 allocation available to Reds fans.
The travelling Kop will be housed in the usual ‘home end’ – the North Star Environmental Kop Stand – with the home faithful switching to the opposite end in the ‘Cowshed’.
Tickets – priced at £20 for adults, £15 for over 65s and young adults (aged 18-22) and £8 for juniors (under 18) – can now only be bought on arrival at Prenton Park, at the cash turnstiles located in the Johnny King Stand.
All Liverpool’s pre-season games will be shown live on LFC TV, starting with Friday’s 7pm kick-off, and you can follow This is Anfield’s live coverage throughout the night.