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Exeter City vs. Liverpool: Match Preview, Team News, and Ways to Watch

It's an injury-riddled side will kick off Liverpool's FA Cup run against Exeter City at St. James' Park.

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Harry Trump/Getty Images

Jürgen Klopp's squad has been decimated by injuries of late, the most recent victims being Philippe CoutinhoDejan Lovren, and Kolo Toure, with the trio suffering hamstring injuries on Monday during the team's 1-0 win against Stoke City in the first leg of the League Cup semi-final. The only good news in that was that Toure's injury amounted to severe cramping that should only see him ruled out to face Exeter.

Still, that leaves Liverpool without a single fit senior center-back and with just one fit senior striker to face Exeter on Friday. Given the amount of fixture congestion that Liverpool will encounter in January and February, with advancement into the latter stages of the League Cup and the knockout rounds of the Europa League, Friday's match was always going to include a heavily rotated squad. Now, though, that rotation will be out of necessity as much as precaution.

Exeter City come into this match having lost four consecutive League Two games. They'll look to buoy spirits and provide a welcome distraction to their poor league form on Friday by picking up a win against an injury-ravaged Liverpool side. Exeter City advanced to the 3rd round of the FA Cup off of wins against Didcot Town and Port Vale earlier in the season. The last time they made it into the 3rd round was 2005 when they fell to Manchester United.

Liverpool have faced Exeter City in the FA Cup only one other time, and that was back in 1950 when the Reds won 3-1. With any luck, history will be repeated on Friday. Tom Nichols, the Grecians's 22-year-old attacker, has scored eight goals in the league so far this season. He'll be looking to exploit Liverpool's weakened back line when the two teams meet.

For Liverpool:

Randall/ Ilori/ Lucas/ Smith
Brannagan/ Allen
Ibe/ Teixeira/ Lallana

A draw will not do for the Reds, who can't afford to stuff a replay into their already packed schedule, so whatever team Klopp picks needs to have the mental toughness to see this match off. Expect Adam Bogdan, who did a good job for most of Liverpool's league cup run, to start this game as well. In the back, it will be a bit of a patchwork job, with youngsters Connor Randall and Brad Smith a solid bet to replace Nathaniel Clyne and Alberto Moreno in the fullback positions, Lucas deputizing as a makeshift center-back, and an immediate return to action for Tiago Ilori following Aston Villa's termination of his loan.

Cameron Brannagan has been included in the squad five times so far this season. This seems like the perfect game for him to get his feet wet at the senior level. Teixeira hasn't featured much this season -- thanks in large part to his lack of inclusion in the Europa League squad -- but he is a solid option in the midfield that Klopp shouldn't ignore. Meanwhile, Ibe and Lallana have both performed well in Liverpool's cup games this season, so hopefully that will translate into another winning performance on Friday.

Youngsters Ryan Kent and Sheyi Ojo have been recalled from loan spells with Coventry City and Wolves, respectively, and both should at least make the bench -- were Liverpool able to run out a stronger lineup elsewhere, the duo might even have been likely to start.

Liverpool have won the FA Cup seven times, most recently in 2006 when they famously came from behind twice, thanks to the heroics of captain Steven Gerrard, to draw the match and then eventually beat West Ham on penalties. Even getting past Exeter may be difficult, though, given they have a list of injured players longer than a Tolstoy novel: Mamadou Sakho, Dejan Lovren, Martin Skrtel, Daniel Sturridge, Divock Origi, Philippe Coutinho, Jordan Rossiter, Jordan HendersonDanny Ings, and Joe Gomez. On a positive note, Jon Flanagan, who last week was included on the injury list, has been removed.

Kickoff is set for 7:55PM GMT/2:55PM EST Friday. Television coverage will be on BBC One UK in the UK and Fox Sports 1 for the US. Elsewhere, ESPN Australia in Australia, Sportsnet World in Canada, Sony Six SD/Sony Six HD in India, SuperSport 3 Africa in Kenya, Eleven Malaysia and Astro SuperSport 3 in Malaysia, and Eleven Singapore in Singapore are carrying the match. You can find other listings at LiveSoccerTV. Online streaming is also available with Fox Sports Go in the USA. For Online radio, fans worldwide can check out BBC Radio, LFCTV GO and TalkSport Radio World.

We'll be keeping you updated with all the buildup to the game, including team news as it's released, our live matchday thread and post-match recaps from The Liverpool Offside staff. If you want to join the discussion, sign up for an SB Nation account to have your say on all the action as it happens.

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