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Shrewsbury expect FA Cup tie to go ahead with Liverpool youngsters

Shrewsbury Town expect the FA Cup tie with Liverpool will be played as planned as competition rules leave the door wide open for the squad to be made up of academy players.

Liverpool’s outbreak of COVID-19 forced the postponement of the semi-final first leg against Arsenal and the closing of the training ground, leading to questions over the FA Cup tie on Sunday.

With cases having continued to be recorded throughout the start of the week, the Reds’ ability to field a team against the League One side is questionable, to say the least.

But as it stands, the game is scheduled to go ahead at Anfield, and Shrewsbury chief executive Brian Caldwell is expecting academy players to feature amid injuries, AFCON absences and Covid cases in Jurgen Klopp‘s first team.

“We have dialogue with the FA in the lead up to every FA Cup match,” Caldwell told BBC Shropshire.

“What we’re being told is the game is on, as things stand, just now. The rules are slightly different in the FA Cup than they are in the Carabao Cup and the Premier League.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Tuesday, February 4, 2020: Liverpool's Jake Cain (L) and Shrewsbury Town's Sean Goss during the FA Cup 4th Round Replay match between Liverpool FC and Shrewsbury Town at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

“Whereby, there is a squad list in the Premier League and the Carabao Cup. They have to pick players from that, whereas in the FA Cup you can pick any registered player.

“That opens up more opportunities for Liverpool. If they want to play some of their under-23s if they’re short of players or whatever, they can do that.

“As far as we’re concerned, as it stands, the game is on as planned.

“It does make it slightly more awkward because you don’t know what team they’re going to play but at the end of the day, we probably wouldn’t have known what team would’ve played if everyone was available anyway.”

With the new cases running rife throughout the squad and staff remaining unnamed, it does leave plenty up in the air when speculating who could lineup for the Reds.

WATFORDF, ENGLAND - Saturday, October 16, 2021: Liverpool's Roberto Firmino (R) celebrates with team-mate Virgil van Dijk after scoring the third goal, his second of the game, during the FA Premier League match between Watford FC and Liverpool FC at Vicarage Road. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

All Premier League clubs have been instructed that FA Cup ties must be fulfilled and any registered player will be required to make up the numbers, unless outbreaks are club wide.

But there are six senior players who should be able to feature having either only recently returned from Covid or are on the cusp of their isolation coming to an end prior to Sunday.

They are Virgil van Dijk, Fabinho, Curtis Jones, Alisson, Roberto Firmino and Joel Matip, with the latter trio all dependent on returning two successive negative tests by Saturday.

The senior contingent would then need to be boosted by the likes of Kaide Gordon, Harvey Davies, James Balagizi, Harvey Blair and James Norris from the academy, negative tests permitting.

It, of course, wouldn’t be the first time youth has been turned to against Shrewsbury as Liverpool’s youngest-ever XI was fielded in the 1-0 win back in 2020.

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