When Liverpool kicks off against Southampton on Sunday afternoon for their final match of the 2022-23 Premier League season, neither team will have anything of note to play for. The Saints are guaranteed relegation and Liverpool are locked into fifth place in the table regardless of the result.
With nothing the play for, manager Jürgen Klopp has no reason to take even the smallest of risks with his final-day lineup. That means anybody dealing with any sort of injury, no matter how minor, is almost certain to be left off the teamsheet when the Reds travel to the south coast.
“We will not take any risks with players, let me say it like this, that makes now no sense,” said Klopp in his press conference today. “But we have a big group together and the training week looked really good, the boys bought really into it, that was cool.”
The manager didn’t have a comprehensive update about who may or may not be available, but he did confirm that none of the players who have been dealing with longer-term injuries will play. The specifics Klopp did give were that Darwin Núñez returned to training after missing time recently due to a toe injury that just won’t seem to go away, and Ibrahima Konaté and Andy Robertson are dealing with an illness and a groin injury, respectively.
“I didn’t make any kind of decisions because it’s now pretty early and I didn’t see the doc yet. I will have a brief conversation with him and then we will see who is in contention, and when we have that then I have to make sure we find players who are really in all departments ready for the game.
“(Núñez) trained yesterday, fully. Ibou (Konaté) was ill yesterday. Robbo felt something in his groin yesterday, he had a scan, that was fine but we anyway have to see how we can deal with that. Long-term are still out, that’s clear. The rest should be all right.”
It wouldn’t be a surprise to see all of Núñez, Konaté, and Robertson given the day off, and Klopp heavily implied that the team would see many changes to the small group that has been leaned on for the bulk of the available minutes over the final quarter of the season as the side made a late push for fourth place.
“I think it makes sense that we make changes, to be honest, just to get fresh legs on the pitch,” said Klopp. “And players who want to show something, besides the fact that we anyway want to win the game, that’s clear.
“I’m not used to games on the last matchday where everything is sorted before, I cannot remember when that last time was the case, usually we play until the last matchday and everything is at stake pretty much.
“But football, we only play this game to win the game, that’s the only reason we meet. And we have to make sure that I find a line-up with good legs, a lot of desire. And we have to see.”