Liverpool are back in League Cup action on Wednesday when they travel to Preston North End in the fourth round, with team changes expected and a chance to progress on the cards.
Here are five key things from Lijnders’ pre-match press conference against Preston:
1. Konate enabled Old Trafford tactics
Of course, there were questions to the assistant boss over our weekend drubbing of Man United. In that match, Ibrahima Konate came into the team and looked as though he plays there every week, not being unduly troubled and allowing the Reds to put a high-risk, high-reward gameplan into action.
“Big compliments to Ibou and our last line because coming in against United is never easy. You talk about Man United it’s speed, lethalness, so it’s not easy to control [their players].
“Ibou is a beast. If you play with a high line and want to keep the position far away from your goal, you need speed. The four – Joel, Ibou, Virg and Joey – add so much to our style.”
Konate is yet to concede a goal in a competitive match for the Reds; he’ll be one of several awaiting to see if he’s handed another start here in the cup.
2. Sepp expected to face parent club
Preston confirmed a couple of weeks ago that they had asked Liverpool for permission to play the on-loan Sepp van den Berg against the Reds in this fixture – and the answer is apparently yes.
Lijnders made the point that youngsters need game time and it would be detrimental to the cause of their long-term development if they were denied participating in, and learning from, such occasions as this one.
“What would be our message if we send our players on loan to get good games and then not let them play? We want to give young players opportunities and for Sepp it’s an amazing game.
“It’s exactly what he needed, fighting in the Championship – if you can come out of that league you’ll be ready for a lot and we can’t wait to see him in pre-season next year.”
3. Familiar story on another away day
The relentless nature of the season at this point means it’s journey after journey for the squad: an international break with players all over the globe, followed by four straight away games in Watford, Madrid, Manchester and now Preston.
It’s a tough schedule and lots of travelling, but for Lijnders and the group it’s a familiar process and one they don’t change regardless of opposition – because they know the process works.
“We don’t prepare differently if we’re away to Preston or away to Man United.
“If the day before the game the session is so intense and so difficult, we are confident to attack the next game.
“That’s what we want, going game by game, session by session, focusing on the small things. We want to show the fans our hunger, our desire, our way. That’s the only way to be consistent in the season.”
4. Academy remains at the core of Reds’ approach
Jurgen Klopp‘s squad is nicely stocked with those who have come through the Kirkby academy, Trent and Curtis being the top two. But there are more trying to become part of the group and Lijnders pointed out just how closely and regularly they work with the youngsters – and why they’ll always be given a go.
“Our academy is constantly producing new players and every international break we use the time to see them, train them and have a good view on what we have.
“There’s always one or two surprises in these breaks and if that keeps going, we produce our own quality with the values of Liverpool then we are always one step ahead of whatever may come.
“We give these young players opportunities. The young players will never let you down. If they play with heart and are humble, they get a chance.”
5. “World-class” Origi and another chance for Taki
As was evidenced last season though, those on the fringes can quickly become vital when injuries hit or a chance is handed to them by the boss – and Lijnders sees the Japanese forward being ready to seize any such opportunity.
“Even when they didn’t get the chance they trained with all they had. They look really sharp.
“Everybody has to be ready, has to show this mentality. Taki, against Norwich was a great example how he easily fits in our starting line-up. It’s just about stay patient, train really hard and sharp and then you’re ready when your chance is coming.”
As for Divock Origi, Lijnders pointed out the attribute which makes him a stand-out on the training pitch, one which clubs all over the world always look for.
“He’s our top scorer in this [competition]. Divock is one of the world’s best finishers and we’ve worked with quite a few in different clubs!
“He’s absolutely a world-class finisher, it’s just to get him in these positions.”