7 Liverpool players who should feature in League Cup vs. Burton Albion

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Liverpool’s League Cup second-round clash with Burton Albion provides Jurgen Klopp with the opportunity to shuffle his pack.

The Reds were drawn against Nigel Clough’s Championship outfit for their first outing in this season’s League Cup, and will take to the Pirelli Stadium on August 23.

A perfect chance to respond to Saturday’s 2-0 defeat away to Burnley in the Premier League, this cup tie will see Klopp demand victory from his side.

The German has used just 17 players so far in the league, but the League Cup could see him rotate his side, giving game time to some of Liverpool’s peripheral names and players returning to fitness.

However, he stressed during his pre-match press conference that it was unlikely his starting lineup would see “seven or eight” changes.

Here are seven players who should feature for the Reds against Clough’s Brewers, either from the start or the bench.

 

Joel Matip

Joel Matip vs. Tranmere Rovers. Credit: Propaganda

Cameroon international centre-back Matip is yet to make his competitive bow for the Reds after suffering an ankle injury during pre-season, but is likely to start against Burton on Tuesday.

This could see him partner either Dejan Lovren or Ragnar Klavan, with the latter more likely to drop out after struggling against Burnley.

Matip offers Liverpool a more progressive option at the heart of defence, while his height and intelligent reading of the game could prove important against Championship opposition.

Signed from Schalke on a free transfer this summer, Klopp described Matip as “a high-quality centre-half” in February, and he is poised to take up a key role on his return.

 

Trent Alexander-Arnold

SANTA CLARA, USA - Saturday, July 30, 2016: Liverpool's Trent Alexander-Arnold in action against AC Milan during the International Champions Cup 2016 game on day ten of the club's USA Pre-season Tour at the Levi's Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Full-back is an area that Liverpool have struggled with so far this season, with Alberto Moreno producing a poor display against Arsenal and both Nathaniel Clyne and James Milner failing to impose themselves at Burnley.

This could see Klopp shuffle his pack once again on the flanks of his defence against Burton, with 17-year-old academy talent Alexander-Arnold an option at right-back.

The former U18s captain has trained with the first team for much of the season so far, and able to operate in a rampaging role at right-back or in one of the box-to-box duties in midfield, is an invaluable option.

Klopp recently hailed him as “a wonderful young player,” and Alexander-Arnold can go some length to proving this on what would be his competitive debut for the club in Staffordshire.

 

Marko Grujic

LONDON, ENGLAND - Saturday, August 6, 2016: Liverpool's Marko Grujic celebrates scoring the fourth goal against Barcelona during the International Champions Cup match at Wembley Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Grujic made his first Premier League appearance for the Reds as a second-half substitute against Burnley on Saturday, and while he failed to influence the result, produced a bright cameo.

The 20-year-old midfielder possesses the bullish physicality and technical quality to shine in the middle of the park under Klopp, and after dominating against lower-level sides during pre-season, can look to impress at the Pirelli Stadium.

Able to replace either Georginio Wijnaldum or Adam Lallana in one of the roving roles in Klopp’s midfield, particularly if the German sticks with his 4-3-3 formation, Grujic is an able deputy.

Likely requiring a slow transition into life in English football, Grujic can continue to cut his teeth from the start against Burton.

 

Emre Can

PASADENA, USA - Wednesday, July 27, 2016: Liverpool's Emre Can after the 1-0 defeat to Chelsea during the International Champions Cup 2016 game on day seven of the club's USA Pre-season Tour at the Rose Bowl. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

After a summer spent with the Germany squad at the European Championship, Can admitted at the end of pre-season that he was “not 100 percent.”

This has become apparent after the midfielder was left out of Klopp’s starting lineup against both Arsenal and Burnley, only featuring as a second-half substitute in the former.

Working his way back to full fitness, a testing clash against Burton could be the ideal proving ground for the former Bayer Leverkusen talent, who could join Grujic in Klopp’s starting midfield.

With Liverpool sorely missing his off-ball prowess and surging forward runs at Turf Moor on Saturday, Can’s return will be hugely anticipated.

 

Kevin Stewart

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, August 14, 2016: Liverpool's Kevin Stewart during the FA Premier League match against Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Another possible option for Klopp’s midfield is blossoming defensive midfielder Stewart, who is yet to feature in 2016/17 despite a promising pre-season campaign.

Though primarily a sturdy, dependable option at the base of the midfield, Stewart showcased his improving confidence and ball-playing ability with a number of bold, creative passes through the Barcelona defence during Liverpool’s penultimate clash of pre-season.

This could be something of a watershed performance for the former Tottenham Hotspur youth, and with Lucas Leiva still injured, he can hope to build on this against Burton.

Whether this comes from the first whistle however, remains to be seen, with Can and Grujic joined by Wijnaldum, Lallana and Jordan Henderson as further options in midfield.

 

Lazar Markovic

WIGAN, ENGLAND - Sunday, July 17, 2016: Liverpool's Lazar Markovic in action against Wigan Athletic during a pre-season friendly match at the DW Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Markovic finds himself at last-chance saloon as the final days of the summer transfer window play out, battling to find fitness and form following a frustrating series of injuries.

The 22-year-old spent 2015/16 on loan with Fenerbahce, but was restricted to 21 appearances, including just 13 starts, and despite returning to pre-season training early in an effort to impress Klopp, was dealt a blow with the £30 million signing of Sadio Mane.

Mane is likely to sit out of Tuesday night’s clash with a shoulder injury, however, along with fellow right winger Sheyi Ojo (back), and with Daniel Sturridge muted on the flanks at Burnley, Markovic provides a useful alternative.

It is likely that, if he fails to impress against Burton, Markovic could leave Liverpool this summer—piling on the pressure for what could be his only outing for the club before August 31.

 

Divock Origi

LONDON, ENGLAND - Saturday, August 6, 2016: Liverpool's Divock Origi in action against Barcelona during the International Champions Cup match at Wembley Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Speaking ahead of the trip to Burton, Klopp hinted that Danny Ings was too far from fitness to feature against the Brewers, heightening Origi’s chances of a starting role.

The German also suggested that Origi was yet to find his “rhythm” in attack, after a late return to pre-season following Euro 2016.

But coming on as a substitute against both Arsenal and Burnley, the 21-year-old is likely ready for his first start of the season, with Liverpool’s lowly opposition providing a perfect primer; by the same token, it may be the right juncture to hand Ben Woodburn his Reds debut, too.

Fielding Origi would allow Klopp to rest the likes of Sturridge and Roberto Firmino, too, with a trip to take on Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League to come on August 27.

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