Any doubts over how Liverpool see the League Cup this season were put to rest on Tuesday when Jürgen Klopp gave assistant Pepijn Lijnders media duties—and Lijnders’ first order of business was to confirm that youth goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher would start.
And Kelleher certainly won’t be the only youngster playing. While it may be Arsenal this time around rather than MK Dons, Liverpool appear determined to play a wholly changed side from the one that faced Tottenham at Anfield in the league on Sunday afternoon.
“We will have lineup of who is hungry, who is fresh, and who wants to prove a point,” Lijnders said of the plan for Wednesday. “I think our squad is not big but it doesn’t make sense and it would really not be intelligent to make it even smaller by not using its strength.
“One of its strengths, in my opinion, is the power of the youth with experience. That mixture can bring amazing processes. Now it’s really important that we use the time we have before the game to create a team, that the players know from each other and what we want.”
With Klopp off receiving FIFA’s manager of the year award last month as Liverpool prepared for MK Dons, Lijnders was given the chance to oversee preparations for the last League Cup tie. Now, it appears, he is being given that chance again—despite Klopp being present.
For Klopp—and for the first team regulars who have seen heavy minutes already this season—the focus is Aston Villa on the weekend and Genk next Tuesday. For Lijnders and the youth players and a few first team stars who haven’t been playing regularly, it’s Arsenal.
“The boys look forward to it, I look forward to it, and I think the whole club looks forward to it,” Lijnders added. “So let’s try to make it a real Anfield experience.”