No European football for Liverpool this season means fewer games to go around, and that means minutes can be harder to come by for some of the club’s fringe players and youngsters. After missing out so far this season, though, Danny Ings and Ovie Ejaria appear set to at least make the bench tonight against Derby County.
Both have been regulars with Liverpool’s U23 side, but both sat out against Tottenham on Monday, meaning the striker and midfielder are at least being strongly considered for Tuesday night’s EFL Cup tie. Yet with the club’s depth at striker and in midfield, and with fewer games to go around, neither is a lock to play.
“Danny is working hard, but the situation is like it is,” said manager Jürgen Klopp. “He is close. It’s not the easiest thing when a player works really hard and then is not involved, so of course you want to give the player something back for that. It’s not always possible. But as soon as it is possible, I will pay that back.”
Ings looked promising at times in pre-season as he worked to come back from a season sidelined with an ACL tear, but with Roberto Firmino taking time at striker the young Englishman has found himself fourth on the striker depth chart. Still, it’s a long season, and if Ings is patient, the chances will come eventually.
The same holds true for Ejaria. Monday’s U23 lineup plus his impressive play for the reserves of late hint at involvement against Derby just as it does for Ings, but even if Klopp in the end decides against including him, his chances will come for the impressive 19-year-old Liverpool poached from the Arsenal academy.
In other youth and reserve news, while Ings and Ejaria are expected to make the lineup against Derby, Kevin Stewart will not be involved, having gone the full 90 against Tottenham’s U23s last night alongside the likes of Trent Alexander-Arnold and Ben Woodburn.