With injuries mounting and Liverpool in the middle of a run of three games in just six days, Jurgen Klopp faces some difficult selection decisions for the visit of West Ham.
The German’s players put a lot into their goalless draw with Man United last Sunday, and will need to be in peak condition for a crucial top-of-the-table clash with Arsenal to come this weekend.
However, the opportunity to move into the semi-finals of the Carabao Cup cannot be passed up by simply naming a team of kids in midweek, and so Klopp has a difficult balance to strike.
There is, at least, one decision that should be straightforward, with Caoimhin Kelleher expected to start in goal as he has done in previous rounds of this competition.
At right-back, Trent Alexander-Arnold will surely be protected, with Joe Gomez coming in as his deputy as has often been the case this season.
But while Jarell Quansah can help continue the theme of rotation at centre-back, Joel Matip‘s absence and Gomez’s use on the flank means Klopp is likely to have to ask Virgil van Dijk to start.
Kostas Tsimikas may also have to feature for at least an hour, with Luke Chambers arguably not ready for what would be a major step up from the occasional Europa League outings he has received.
In midfield, Alexis Mac Allister‘s ongoing absence means Wataru Endo will surely be needed for the full 90 minutes against Arsenal, and so can’t start here.
That means a potential start for Curtis Jones in holding midfield, with Harvey Elliott and Dominik Szoboszlai ahead of him.
Up top, Ben Doak is set to be sidelined for the long term after undergoing surgery, meaning Klopp has little choice but to go with his senior options.
That could mean a front three of Mohamed Salah, Darwin Nunez and Cody Gakpo, which the manager will hope can pick up goals and confidence en route to propelling Liverpool into the next round.
Predicted Liverpool XI vs. West Ham: Kelleher; Gomez, Quansah, Van Dijk, Tsimikas; Jones, Szoboszlai, Elliott; Salah, Gakpo, Nunez