The fixture clash that could restrict Jurgen Klopp’s selection in the League Cup

7 September 2019

Jurgen Klopp is expected to rotate his side for Liverpool’s League Cup third-round trip to MK Dons on September 25, but a fixture clash could restrict his options.


The Reds head to Stadium MK at the end of the month as they enter their fourth competition of the campaign so far.

Reduced efforts in the League Cup of late have seen Klopp’s side knocked out of the third round both times in the past two years, with a mix of youth and fringe players fielded.

The same is likely this time around, particularly as Liverpool will take on League One opposition, and the likes of Dejan Lovren, James Milner, Adam Lallana, Xherdan Shaqiri and Divock Origi could all start.

But with the under-21s playing at Fleetwood Town on the same night in the EFL Trophy, and with no indication at this stage that it will be rescheduled, some of those youngsters earmarked to feature in Milton Keynes may be out of contention.

Sepp van den Berg, Yasser Larouci, Adam Lewis, Curtis Jones and Harvey Elliott all started last time out in the competition, losing 3-2 away to Oldham Athletic.

It could that they are retained for the visit to Highbury Stadium, as they already form a decidedly youthful U21s side in a game against another outfit from League One.

In a Q&A for The Athletic earlier this week, James Pearce suggested it is “more likely” that summer signings Van den Berg and Elliott would be among those turning out in the EFL Trophy, not the League Cup.

BRADFORD, ENGLAND - Saturday, July 13, 2019: Liverpool's Joe Gomez before a pre-season friendly match between Bradford City AFC and Liverpool FC at Valley Parade. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Pearce names Lovren and Joe Gomez as possibilities to start at centre-back ahead of Van den Berg, while Origi and Shaqiri are “waiting patiently” for a start in attack.

Realistically, Klopp could still start the likes of Caoimhin Kelleher and Ki-Jana Hoever against MK Dons, Jones could make the step up to start in midfield, and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain would benefit from a place as he works his way back.

Rhian Brewster, meanwhile, can be expected to make his Liverpool debut leading to line.

Possible XI vs. MK Dons: Kelleher; Hoever, Gomez, Lovren, Milner; Lallana, Jones, Oxlade-Chamberlain; Shaqiri, Origi, Brewster

But it could be that some of those key names that would perhaps ideally be rested will need to at least be in reserve for the midweek trip to Buckinghamshire.

OLDHAM, ENGLAND - Wednesday, August 7, 2019: Liverpool's Harvey Elliot walks out to make his debut during the English Football League Trophy Northern Group B match between Oldham Athletic AFC and Liverpool FC at Boundary Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Speaking as part of LFCTV’s The Academy, youth director Alex Inglethorpe explained that the Reds could already head into EFL Trophy games “a little bit light on numbers.”

“I think some games we might have to go into where we are a bit younger than we would want and maybe it will be a tough evening for us,” he said.

“But we are prepared to give it as good a go as we possibly can and it’s three great games for the kids to experience something which is close to senior football.

“There will be a crowd, there will be something riding on the game, they will be playing against senior players that will offer something completely different to U23s football, which is really just an extension of youth-team football.”

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