Jurgen Klopp is set to recall first-teamers for the League Cup semi-final first leg at Southampton, but the boss faces a tricky selection with a trip to Old Trafford on the horizon.
The Reds look to put FA Cup frustration behind them as they turn focus to the first instalment of a record 17th League Cup semi-final clash against the Saints.
Klopp will be desperate to go one better in the competition this season as he bids to win his first silverware, and producing a professional display on the south coast to return to Anfield with an advantage will be the aim.
Klopp is likely to restore first team players who were handed much-needed rests against Plymouth, but he faces a tough decision over who and how many to utilise with a huge game at Man United following imminently.
- Klopp to recall certain refreshed first team picks
- Philippe Coutinho could be involved after returning to training following six weeks out
- James Milner fit again and could return to starting team
- Joel Matip and Jordan Henderson “on a good way” but unlikely to feature with United game targeted for comebacks
- Likes of Nathaniel Clyne, Dejan Lovren, Ragnar Klavan and Georginio Wijnaldum could take part
- Loris Karius to continue in goal
- Lucas, Alberto Moreno, Emre Can and Divock Origi could keep starting shirts
- Trent Alexander-Arnold, Kevin Stewart, Ovie Ejaria & Ben Woodburn hopeful of inclusion
- Klopp could include Marko Grujic in the squad after recovering from tendon injury
- Joe Gomez likely miss out as return from 15 month injury lay-off is managed
Liverpool’s XI vs. The Saints
Klopp faces arguably his trickiest selection of the season so far, with the boss needing to effectively rotate for a crunch tie ahead of Sunday’s Old Trafford grudge match.
The big question is how strong a side Klopp fields, and the answer could be the maximum options allow in order to prepare his team for the rivals clash, which Matip, Henderson and Coutinho – who could feature from the bench at St Mary’s – could all return for.
With this in mind, Liverpool’s usual defence in Matip’s absence could all start ahead of Karius, who will have a far tougher 90 minutes than against Plymouth.
Can, Wijnaldum and Lallana could form the strongest midfield available, with the energetic trio supporting a potentially lethal attack of Firmino, Origi and Sturridge.
Liverpool would look like this at St Mary’s:
Fielding the strongest available side before a blockbuster meeting with United could be a risk that isn’t worth taking though.
Klopp won’t want to collect any injuries just as the squad looks healthy again, and the need for an aggressive, high-energy display on Sunday could persuade the boss to avoid doing so.
A strong but slightly rotated team could be named, keeping out certain likely starters at Old Trafford to ensure of options to freshen the side.
Keeping Lucas and Moreno in defence in place of Milner and Lovren makes sense, given the back-up duo are unlikely to feature against United.
Similarly, Stewart could anchor at the base of midfield behind Wijnaldum and Lallana instead of Can, with Firmino this time operating behind a strike duo of Origi and Sturridge.
Leaving out likely starters against United in Lovren, Milner and Can gives Klopp further alternatives to introduce alongside Matip, Henderson, and Coutinho in case the returning trio fail to prove their fitness.
It also ensures of a strong XI on Wednesday night, which would look like this:
The prize is now firmly in sight for the eight-time winners, but two big performances will be needed to earn a Wembley return and shot at glory, starting on Wednesday night.