Neil Critchley has named five debutants in his youthful Liverpool side to take on Aston Villa in the League Cup quarter-finals tonight.
The Reds face a tough task tonight as they arrive at Villa Park to take on Dean Smith’s first team, with the entirety of Jurgen Klopp‘s fit senior squad in Qatar.
With under-23s coach Critchley left in charge, the 41-year-old calls upon the best of the academy ranks, though injury and absence restricts his selection even further.
Caoimhin Kelleher starts between the sticks as one of his most experienced players, with the Irishman behind a defensive line of Ki-Jana Hoever, Sepp van den Berg, Morgan Boyes and Tony Gallacher.
Pedro Chirivella is set to take up deep-lying duties in midfield, supported by the duo of Herbie Kane and Isaac Christie-Davies, who could serve as a much-needed goal threat in a game that could present few chances for the visitors.
And in attack start Harvey Elliott, Tom Hill and Luis Longstaff, with Hill marking an impressive season as a first-year scholar.
This means Boyes, Gallacher, Christie-Davies, Hill and Longstaff all make their first-team debuts tonight, while Herbie Kane and Sepp van den Berg make their first starts for the club at senior level.
Leighton Clarkson, Elijah-Dixon Bonner and Layton Stewart are among those named on the substitutes’ bench.
There is no place in the squad for either Yasser Larouci or Rhian Brewster, who are both ruled out through injury.
Critchley is aware it could be a tough night for his young Reds, and though his expectations are realistically low, the stand-in manager has urged his players to “play like a Liverpool team.”
They take on a Villa side who are without a win in their last four games and have lost each of their last three, which could highlight a slight chink in their armour.
If Liverpool are to capitalise, the efforts of Kane and Elliott could be particularly key.
Aston Villa: Nyland; Elmohamady, Chester, Konsa, Taylor; Douglas Luiz, Lansbury, Hourihane; Trezeguet, Jota, Kodjia
Substitutes Kalinic, Hause, Guilbert, McGinn, Grealish, El Ghazi, Wesley
Liverpool: Kelleher; Hoever, Van den Berg, Boyes, Gallacher; Chirivella, Kane, Christie-Davies; Elliott, Hill, Longstaff
Substitutes: Winterbottom, Clayton, Norris, Clarkson, Dixon-Bonner, Bearne, Stewart