For Liverpool and other clubs regularly engaged in four competitions, the League Cup has always been a chance to give young players opportunities. When the Reds get back into action against Manchester City on Thursday evening, it will be no different.
That’s according to assistant manager Pepijn Lijnders, who says that despite the marquee nature of the matchup the intention will be to give at least a few of their younger players the opportunity to impact the match and make their case for a bigger role.
“If there is one thing this World Cup proved it is that you need your squad,” Lijnders noted ahead of the match. “The teams who became successful needed the whole squad. To put this in context, when we play League Cup it’s always in a very busy schedule.
“We play Champions League, Premier League, and we cannot rest players. Then the League Cup comes and in a timeframe where we play every three days and the boys have to always be at the top to win games it is a perfect moment to use the full squad.
“Now it’s a different situation, of course, because we have a long time off, the boys come back from the World Cup, but we still believe that we need to give our talents chances—not just against lower-league opposition but also Premier League opposition.”
The unusual situation may mean a slightly different sort of League Cup lineup as players need to get up to speed before the Premier League restarts, but with some stars on break because of the World Cup there will still be a role for the younger players.
“We believe in them and want them to have challenges and difficulties and maybe struggle a little bit,” he added. “Only then you are improving. My job, Jürgen’s job, the club’s job, is to improve our players and improve our team and that’s what we always try.”