When Liverpool face off against Nottingham Forest in the quarterfinals of the FA Cup, they will already be without one of their key creative players in Trent Alexander-Arnold. The Reds might also be without their biggest goal scoring threat, Mohamed Salah.
Salah picked up a knock just before slotting a penalty against Brighton, and has had limited minutes—by his lofty standards—since. Although he played the full 90 against Inter Milan, he only came on for the last half an hour against Arsenal. Mo might get similar treatment tomorrow against Nottingham Forest, if he sees the pitch at all.
“But we have obviously a couple of issues from the last game and before: people who are ill and I hope I don’t get news somebody is ill today. So far I didn’t get that but the boys come in slightly later,” Klopp explained in his pre-match press conference.
“Mo felt his foot again a little bit after the game, so we have to see what we do with that and on top of that, some other bits and bobs and stuff like this so we have to wait. It is always like this. I want to have a team at Nottingham who is fresh enough physically and mentally for the game and really is going for it.
“If we rotate – and I really don’t know it in the moment – then it’s just to have the best team possible for this specific game on the pitch.”
It’s a big game—Klopp’s first FA Cup quarterfinal since arriving in England—but simultaneously the least important game that remains this year, which in and of itself is a mad statement.
Klopp will need to make some difficult choices as the season winds down and pressure ramps up. Which players are important to rotate? Which ones should be risked for certain matches? There will be a great deal to consider: match fitness, squad harmony, physical and mental exhaustion, the opposition, etc.
The good news is that Liverpool have shown that they can get results, even against Premier League sides, without Mohamed Salah. However, there’s no denying that Mo Salah running down the wing makes Liverpool a more dangerous side. Whether he is good to go or not, hopefully he can get back to full fitness for the crucial post-international break run-in.