Jurgen Klopp explains Liverpool medical staff’s input on Stefan Bajcetic return

While making 11 changes to his lineup for the trip to LASK in pursuit of victory, Jurgen Klopp also used the game to reintegrate Stefan Bajcetic.

Bajcetic had not played for Liverpool at any level in over six months when he stepped onto the pitch for Thursday night’s Europa League opener.

The sum total of his game time since picking up an adductor injury in March was a 30-minute outing for Spain U21s in their 6-0 win over Malta during the international break.

But with Klopp making wholesale changes at LASK, and with the absences of Trent Alexander-Arnold and Conor Bradley, Bajcetic returned as part of the starting lineup.

He did so in an unfamiliar role, adopting the hybrid duty enjoyed by Alexander-Arnold, starting at right-back but moving into midfield in possession.

In his post-match press conference, Klopp described the 3-1 comeback win as a “massive learning curve,” noting how his side “caused problems” for Bajcetic.

“Stefan found a way into the game, after a rather difficult start,” the manager explained.

“We caused him problems, obviously, with the timing of our passes.”

Bajcetic grew into the game and played a part in the goal that brought Liverpool level, his delayed ball across the six-yard box leading to Luis Diaz winning a penalty.

LINZ, AUSTRIA - Thursday, September 21, 2023: Liverpool's Luis Díaz (R) celebrates after scoring the second goal during the UEFA Europa League Group E matchday 1 game between LASK and Liverpool FC at the Raiffeisen Arena. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The 18-year-old departed the pitch five minutes later, however, as one of three changes with Joe Gomez, Alexis Mac Allister and Dominik Szoboszlai on for him, Wataru Endo and Ben Doak.

But while Endo and Doak may have been withdrawn for tactical purposes, having struggled to impose themselves, Bajcetic was not brought off due to his performance.

Instead, Klopp told LFCTV that his substitution was pre-planned, with Liverpool’s medical staff dictating limited minutes for both the Spaniard and Ibrahima Konate.

“Ibou came through, we had to take him off because the medical department told us,” he said.

“We had to take Stefan off, because the medical department told us.

“That made changing [elsewhere] a bit tricky.”

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, September 20, 2023: Liverpool's Jarell Quansah (L) with Liverpool’s Stefan Baj?eti? during a training session at the AXA Training Centre ahead of the UEFA Europa League Group E match between LASK and Liverpool FC. (Pic by Andrew Yeats/Propaganda)

With Liverpool taking the three points and, as it stands, no players coming away with injury, Klopp told reporters that he was “cheeky enough to be really happy.”

One of “many positives,” the German added, was that “Stefan could get minutes.”

“We have to get used to everything. We have to get used to the competition, we have to get used to each other still,” he continued.

“I changed 11 times, so everything that didn’t work out is my responsibility, everything that worked out, the boys did really well.

“I’m really happy with that, to be honest. I can say I’m really happy.”