Jürgen Klopp’s decision to play Curtis Jones at right back against Leicester spoke to the manager’s depth of options in midfield—and to the seriousness with which they seem to be taking even the League Cup this season.
In past years, the expectation would have been for a youth team player to swap in on Wednesday night. Instead, this time it was Jones. And as has been the case with regularity this season, he impressed.
“When I told him he would play right back, I sold the right back idea with the captaincy,” Klopp joked of the decision following the match. “But he was already completely excited when I told him he would be right back.
“The way he executed it was super special I have to say, wow. We couldn’t play Stefan [Bajcetic], we have to be careful with him; Joe [Gomez] will be okay for the weekend but was not for today; for Trent it’s too early.
“So we needed to find solutions. Curtis was always in my mind as a potential solution because he is football-smart. He enjoys being on the ball and the deeper you are, the more often you can get the ball.”
Having Jones out of position in the back line may have contributed to the space Leicester had to counter into for the game’s opening goal, but in a game where the Reds dominated the ball he rarely put a foot wrong.
With Trent Alexander-Arnold likely to return shortly, Joe Gomez impressing in recent weeks, and Stefan Bajcetic building up his fitness it’s unlikely Jones will be needed again to fill the role again in the immediate future.
Still, it’s nice to know that in a pinch—and at least in games where Liverpool will expect to have most of the possession—there could well be another viable option for the manager to call on at the right back position.
“For the first time for him in a strange position he did really well,” Klopp added. “He is in a good moment so he could probably play any position, but we will try to use him as often as possible in his natural position.”