Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has potentially opened the door to a plethora of Academy players to feature for the first team in Wednesday’s Carabao Cup game against Arsenal.
This Is Anfield reported that no fewer than 11 players from the club’s Academy had been called up to train with the senior squad in the lead-up to the midweek cup clash.
Jakub Ojrzynski, Sepp van den Berg, Neco Williams, Morgan Boyes, Billy Koumetio, Pedro Chirivella, Herbie Kane, Leighton Clarkson, Curtis Jones, Harvey Elliott and Luis Longstaff all trained with the first team squad at Melwood yesterday, as per This Is Anfield.
Of those 11 names from the Academy, some would appear to have a far better chance than others of starting.
The absences of Joel Matip and Nathaniel Clyne through injury have left Klopp with very little in the way of defensive cover, which raises the distinct likelihood of Van den Berg getting a start after he featured in the last round against MK Dons.
Mohamed Salah will almost certainly be rested after a recurrence of an ankle injury against Tottenham on Sunday, while Klopp could also give a rare night off to fellow attackers Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino, with those two having already made 14 and 15 appearances respectively this season.
That may leave vacancies for Jones and Elliott to make their second starts of the Carabao Cup campaign, having been in the team for the win over MK Dons last month.
The abundance of more senior competition in the goalkeeping and midfield departments could make it harder for the other Academy youngsters to start against Arsenal, though.
In midfield, he may decide to give starting berths to Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Adam Lallana, with both men scoring recently but lacking in first team minutes this term, and Naby Keita — another senior squad member who could benefit from more gametime having started just twice this season.
With very little available backup to the first choice defenders and forwards, the likes of Van den Berg, Williams, Elliott and Jones should be drafted into the team so that the regulars can be given a rest.
Klopp may want to balance that youth with some experience, though, which could make it tougher for the others to feature from the start, but even naming them on the bench would show them that the door to the first team will occasionally be thrown open.
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