MATCHDAY PROGRAMME

LINZ, AUSTRIA - Thursday, September 21, 2023: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp before the UEFA Europa League Group E matchday 1 game between LASK and Liverpool FC at the Raiffeisen Arena. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Jurgen Klopp can break 53-year record by naming Liverpool lineup

Jurgen Klopp could realistically field Liverpool’s youngest-ever European lineup, after a number of academy players travelled for the dead rubber at Union SG.

The Reds are already through to the last 16 of the Europa League as group winners, meaning Thursday’s clash at Union SG has nothing riding on it.

Klopp will still want to win, of course, knowing the effect a defeat could have on momentum, but the manager has already acknowledged the situation.

With Alexis Mac Allister out injured along with Joel Matip, Diogo Jota, Andy Robertson, Thiago and Stefan Bajcetic, the decision was made to rest Alisson, Virgil van Dijk, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Mo Salah.

A host of key players made the trip to Belgium, but did so alongside 11 youngsters from the academy.

Those graduates range from the more experienced likes of Jarell Quansah and Ben Doak, to those who are yet to debut for the first team like Lewis Koumas.

And while Klopp could opt to start his strongest possible lineup from the 23 who travelled, there is a strong chance he opts to keep some of his regular starters on the bench.

In any event, Liverpool are likely to field their youngest-ever starting XI for a European tie.

That record currently stands at an average of 23.4 years, set in 1970 when the Reds took on Dinamo Bucharest in the European Fairs Cup.

An expected XI for the kickoff at 5.45pm on Thursday is:

Kelleher; Bradley, Gomez, Quansah, Chambers; McConnell, Elliott, Jones; Doak, Diaz, Gakpo

That lineup would have an average age of 21.7.

This would, in fact, be the youngest side to ever start a game for Liverpool, bar the academy teams that played Aston Villa (19.5 years) and Shrewsbury (19.3 years) in the cups in 2019/20.

Kelleher; Gomez, Konate, Quansah, Tsimikas; Endo, Szoboszlai, Jones; Gakpo, Diaz, Nunez

Even the oldest possible lineup from the 23 players who travelled, including Wataru Endo in midfield and Kostas Tsimikas at left-back, would have an average age 24.6.

Klopp could feasibly name an even younger side that the aforementioned, with the following possible:

Kelleher; Bradley, Gomez, Quansah, Chambers; McConnell, Elliott, Jones; Doak, Scanlon, Gakpo

That side, which would not come as a surprise if it was announced an hour before kickoff, would have an average age of just 21.

If Koumas were to replace Cody Gakpo in that attacking line, the average age would drop further to 20.5.

The youngest-ever Liverpool starting lineup excluding the clashes with Villa and Shrewsbury – which were held in the absence of the first team – came in the 0-0 FA Cup third-round draw with Plymouth in 2017 (21.8).

All but one of the eight youngest sides in the club’s history have come during Klopp’s reign.