In his pre-Southampton press conference head coach Jürgen Klopp considered the impact of the World Cup on his side’s ambitions this season. While it is too soon to pick a team for the pre-Christmas cup tie against Manchester City, Klopp discussed the overall impact of losing seven players to their national teams — a relatively small number in comparison to recent years:
“That is now a number that is not too big. They are important players for us, very important players, but we have a clear rule how it is with them in the national games: the boys have to text me if there are any issues and especially after the game.
“In the World Cup it is different, we can see all the games, we see ‘he is playing or not playing’ and we can probably read the news. When there is a World Cup you get all the information.
“When there is a normal international game and Brazil plays, it’s tricky to get any kind of information so we need the players to tell us, ‘No, fine, 90 minutes but I’m OK.’ That’s the contact we will have, definitely. It is clear that when they are winning the players’ WhatsApp group will get bonkers and that’s how it is.
“Anyway, we are in the training camp in Dubai - that’s around the corner [from Qatar], so if somebody has to leave the tournament early they can join us immediately. That’s one of the reasons why we go there.”
Though he noted that other teams will be without more players than Liverpool’s seven, Klopp stopped short of suggesting such a thing would be an advantage:
“So, yes, City has double figures and we would usually have Diogo [Jota] as well going to the World Cup and then we are already at eight. Probably some others if they had been in a slightly different situation, not injured and stuff like this, then they might have made it as well.
“I’m happy about the number of players we have for our pre-season, that’s a good number, all positions are covered. So, should have two centre-halves, three or four full-backs, enough midfielders, front line pretty much, Lucho [Luis Diaz] is now running outside and looks really good. That’s positive. Of course that’s how we use it, but moaning about the players who are at the World Cup? No.
“I think it is enough, to be honest. Enough players will go and we need them all back healthy, definitely. But of course then it is a really long season to come, a lot of games and it starts early, but from that moment on there is no rest again. So that’s the problem obviously. Between the last matchday [against Southampton on Saturday] and the first matchday [back] I think it is six weeks?
“So, OK, with the Carabao Cup maybe only five-and-a-half weeks, but if you only play three games and go out after the group stage there is no real problem and then you have time to train and afterwards rest a little bit.
“If you go through to the final or to the semis at least, because you play for third place as well, then it’s really long and a lot of games in that period. But that will not happen for everybody, somebody has to get out of the tournament [earlier].
“No, it is for all players difficult who are playing there, but going out after the group stage then you have three games in 10 or 12 days or something like that and the rest you can rest and prepare and that would be OK. For the guys who are really successful it is very intense.
“That’s the situation. There are plenty of Premier League clubs who are not like that. I don’t know about Aston Villa, our first [Premier League] opponent after, they have a new manager and a real pre-season and probably nearly all the players together so for them it’s really good.
“For the teams who have players at the World Cup, the more you have [there] the less good it is because the less time you have to work together and prepare for the rest of the season. Because as intense as it was now, the real intense part now will come.”