Liverpool’s Club World Cup squad announcement caused a stir this morning with four youngsters being included – but it seems they’ll have a dual role.
After dates were confirmed that Liverpool would play Aston Villa on December 17 and start their Club World Cup adventure on December 18, the suggestion had been that two distinct squads would play: the seniors in Qatar, the youth against Villa.
This morning, though, Jurgen Klopp‘s travelling squad was announced: a 23-strong group which included the youthful quartet of Curtis Jones, Rhian Brewster, Harvey Elliott and Neco Williams.
All four have been in the League Cup side this season, with Williams playing against Arsenal and the other three involved in two cup games thus far.
With them travelling to Qatar it would have meant a hugely inexperienced and under-strength squad playing against Villa, even by Liverpool’s youth team standards.
But now David Lynch of the Evening Standard reports that the club have plans to ensure that quartet can play against Villa, then be flown out to Qatar as part of the senior squad.
As players taking part in the Club World Cup have to be in place several days before the tournament starts, there is some uncertainty over how this will work in practice.
The Reds may have received special dispensation to bring over the young group later on, as it’s improbable that they will feature in the actual games in Qatar, given they’ll be playing the day before the semis.
Or the rule may have been relaxed entirely on this point, as they are young players rather than seniors who will be the ‘face’ of the club in commercial and media activities ahead of the competition.
It means the Reds can field at least a reasonable side, albeit likely a record-breaking one in terms of youthfulness, against Aston Villa.
Possible XI vs. Villa: Kelleher; Williams, Hoever, Van den Berg, Larouci; Dixon-Bonner, Chirivella, Kane; Jones, Elliott, Brewster.
It remains to be seen just how well they hold their own as a group against Villa’s seniors, with a cup semi-final place on offer.
Klopp’s focus is clearly on the Club World Cup and, beyond that, with the Reds’ two big competitions for the season and he won’t shed many tears if the team, led by Neil Critchley at Villa Park, do exit the League Cup.