Against Exeter City across two matches in the FA Cup and in their first against West Ham, Liverpool fielded a much changed eleven heavy on youth and fringe players. For the likes of Brad Smith, Keven Stewart, and Joao Carlos Teixeira it was a chance to impress. For the likes of Christian Benteke it was a chance to get his season back on track.
For most, the youngsters impressed more than the senior fringe players, and it would surprise no one to see a few kids getting another run-out tomorrow in the replay against West Ham. Many, though, expect a sprinkling of first team regulars to be added to the mix with Liverpool’s league hopes dashed and little to play for outside the three cup competitions they’re still involved in.
"We haven’t decided about the lineup," insisted manager Jürgen Klopp at his pre-match press conference today. "Daniel [Sturridge] was fit enough for the bench against Sunderland. He was impressive in training so we thought if there’s a chance for 10 or 15 minutes we should try it, but then the game had a different story and there was no possibility with two early changes."
With the focus on making sure Sturrige is fit over the long run and not just for one night, most don’t expect him to start against West Ham. A spot on the bench, though, along with a chance to put in a late appearance if the match allows it, seems certain. There’s also the chance one or both of Philippe Coutinho or Divock Origi could play a role, though Klopp sounded a cautious note.
"It’s a bit complicated because extra time is possible," added the Liverpool manager. "We have to look at who will start, and they can’t all start together because we know we would have to change all three because the whole game would be too much in this moment. So we have to figure out how we do it best but we will find a solution for sure. It’s always about who is available.
"We will try to find the lineup to beat West Ham at West Ham, and that’s not too easy to do. But the last game against them was a good game for us, we saw what we were able to do. Now we should do it again, but better, and then we have a chance."