For Liverpool this season, the League Cup was always going to be all about giving youth a chance, something assistant manager Pepijn Lijnders made clear when he spoke to the press on Tuesday—and that Jürgen Klopp has now hammered home.
“I love the words of Pep Lijnders when he says we don’t have anything but first-choice players in this squad,” Klopp noted in the matchday programme. “We don’t have first and second choices—really we don’t. We have the team for a particular moment.
“Although not certain, the strong likelihood is that a number of our younger players will feature, [and against] Milton Keynes, Caoimhin Kelleher, Ki-Jana Hoever, Curtis Jones, Harvey Elliott, and Rhian Brewster all started and equipped themselves superbly.”
Irish shot stopper Kelleher is the one name whose place in the eleven has already been confirmed, and right back Neco Williams is also set to start according to Goal’s Neil Jones. Conversely, Hoever is off with the Dutch U21s and won’t be available.
As for the rest, here will be first team players sprinkled in—especially in midfield, where Liverpool have enviable depth and more senior options in need of minutes—but the focus will be on the promising youngsters who will be given a chance to impress.
“The attitude these players showed in the last round is exactly what will be required this evening,” Liverpool’s manager added. “They show the right attitude and the perfect amount of hunger each and every day they train with us at Melwood.
“Clearly the ability of these players is not in question. It is their talent that has brought them here and kept them here. At this stage of their careers it is about a variety of other factors—and being ready to grasp an opportunity is a big part of it.”