Liverpool playmaker Philippe Coutinho is set to return to action after almost seven weeks out to boost manager Jurgen Klopp’s attacking options.
Klopp is unrepentant about fielding the club’s youngest ever line-up in the FA Cup goalless draw at home to League Two Plymouth despite a dearth of chances.
Coutinho’s comeback after ankle ligament damage could help alleviate that issue at Southampton in the first leg of the EFL Cup semi-final on Wednesday.
If the Brazil international can get some competitive game time under his belt it will be an even bigger positive with a trip to Manchester United to come this weekend.
And the side will get another lift pre-Old Trafford with Jordan Henderson set to join team training on Thursday after a heel problem.
“I think Phil is fit enough to be part of the squad and that means there could be minutes, but it depends on the game,” said Klopp.
“It was six or seven weeks and that is long so he needs minutes in training especially but then as soon as possible minutes in games.
“No final decision has been made until now but tomorrow would be his fourth session with the team.
“It is not that many but for being in the squad it is enough.”
Klopp is likely to restore many of his first-choice players who were rested on Sunday but he insists that is not a reflection on the youngsters, five of whom were teenagers, who toiled away against Argyle.
“The question I asked this morning in the dressing room was ‘Could we have done better?’ 100 per cent yes with this line-up,” he added.
“I don’t expect perfection but I have high expectations because I see them every day in training and I was convinced we could play really well.
“I have absolutely no problem with criticism but it was not about underestimating an opponent.
“It is not about young, old, whatever. It is about which line-up made the most sense because of the injury situations of the players and the timing: when do we play who?
“Now we have 18, 19 or 20 players ready for the game. A few of them played yesterday and we have to see how they react and how the other players who were not involved are.”
Klopp guided Liverpool to the League Cup and Europa League finals last season, his first in charge, and the expectation is he will repeat the first of those feats this time around with a potential Wembley meeting with arch-rivals Manchester United in the offing.
However, he ruled out the chance of complacency creeping into his squad despite the favourites tag.
“Anyone who says this has no real idea about cup competitions because in the last few years all over the world it would have been the same teams involved,” said the Reds boss.
“I don’t think Liverpool-Sevilla was the expected (Europa League) final last year but we were there and we deserved it.
“There is no more pressure on us. It is an opportunity. It is always a new day.
“I said to the lads last year it would not be the last final they would be involved in and this is the first chance to prove this.”