A number of Liverpool‘s key players will remain on Merseyside during the international break, allowing them to work on their respective games in the process.
The Reds are brimming with momentum currently, having won their last five games in all competitions, but they now have to wait nearly a fortnight for their next outing.
Loris Karius, Alex Manninger, Dejan Lovren (injured), Joel Matip, Lucas Leiva, Tiago Ilori, Mamadou Sakho, Joe Gomez (injured), Nathaniel Clyne (injured) Alberto Moreno, James Milner, Emre Can, Kevin Stewart, Cameron Brannagan, Adam Lallana (injured), Sheyi Ojo (injured), Danny Ings[/quote_box_right]
But Jurgen Klopp still has a host of first-team squad members to work with at Melwood, and this can prove crucial in preparing for the road ahead.
There is plenty for the Liverpool manager to focus on, and plenty for his squad to fight for.
For all of the Reds’ sparkling attacking football so far in 2016/17, those same defensive deficiencies have shown few signs of easing up.
Klopp’s men are still searching for their first clean sheet in the Premier League, with 10 goals conceded in their seven games to date.
There are already ludicrous calls for Simon Mignolet to come back into the side, and while Karius will surely not lose his place, he must be ready for the peppering he may take against United.
Milner is still learning how to thrive as a left-back, despite some outstanding performances, and being retired from England duty allows him to carry on developing there.
The centre-back pairing of Matip and Lovren is also still a work in progress—Lovren is once again injured for the time being—so it is a real stroke of fortune that Klopp has both potentially available for some of the next week or so.
Clyne is nursing a knee issue that won’t allow him to train fully with his Reds team-mates, but the 25-year-old is the least of the defensive worries.
Ahead of the huge clash with United, Liverpool‘s fit defenders must fine-tune their talents, both as a unit and individually.
Klopp has made a point of saying that the entire squad is crucial to his plans, rather than focussing too much on those who play every week.
Although his first-choice starting lineup looks fairly set at the moment, numerous players will see the international break as a great chance to stake a claim for a future starting berth.
The Spaniard is not as bad as some would make you believe, and Klopp recently heaped praise on his eye-catching performances in training.
On his day, the 22-year-old is one of Liverpool‘s most important players, and as the season progresses, it is likely that he will win his place back in the team.
Klopp will only pick players on merit, however, and the Reds boss will be intrigued to see how Can responds with Henderson and Wijnaldum not around.
Mamadou Sakho will remain at Melwood, after being dropped by France, and he will be desperate to win round Klopp, following the deterioration of their relationship—though this remains unlikely.
The importance of Alex Manninger being around for Karius should also not be underestimated, with the veteran goalkeeper having the potential to be a calming influence around his younger team-mate.
Some of Liverpool‘s young players will be representing their countries’ youth teams during the international break—Marko Grujic, Ovie Ejaria, Harry Wilson and Trent Alexander-Arnold stand out in that respect—but a number will stay at Melwood.
It is clear that the youngsters will struggle to feature much in the Premier League this season, but chances may still come their way in cup competitions.
Admittedly, Klopp has fielded strong starting lineups in both League Cup games against Burton Albion and Derby County.
But simply spending more time on the training ground with Klopp can only be invaluable to their development, and they may receive a little more individual tuition in the absence of more high-profile names.
While the monotony of another international break plays out this month, Klopp has plenty of work to do on the training ground, and a host of players could benefit from their involvement.