Jurgen Klopp insists “journalists are entitled to their opinion” after refusing to become embroiled in a row over their team selections for the Carabao Cup and the Club World Cup in Doha.
Liverpool have two matches in the space of less than 24 hours with the Champions League winners facing Monterrey in Qatar at 5.30pm on Wednesday.
That led to the unusual decision for the Reds to play what will be in effect their youth team against Aston Villa in Tuesday evening’s Carabao Cup clash, with Under-23s boss Neil Critchley in the dug-out for the game.
“Journalists are allowed their opinion. We knew first we’d be invited to Club World Cup before we got to the Carabao Cup quarter-final,” Klopp responded to the suggestions at a press conference to preview the game in Doha.
“We are here. We don’t fly that distance to not show up. We are here. We will be prepared. We don’t see ourselves as favourites, we see ourselves as challengers. Is it the most important competition? I don’t know.”
Klopp, having told his young players to “run for their lives” in the game, also insists he fully believes Liverpool’s youngsters deserve their chance to prove their ability in the white-hot atmosphere at Villa Park.
“The last couple of years we have been kicked out of the cup competitions with pretty much our first team,” Klopp added. “The youngsters have deserved their chance and they have taken it. They have all our support and we will be thinking of them. They are our boys. We hope they do well.”
Liverpool will be boosted by the availability of Virgil van Dijk for the game, with the recently-crowned FSA Player of the Year having emerged as a doubt for the clash with Monterrey.
But the Reds will be without midfielder Gini Wijnaldum, who had been withdrawn against Watford on Saturday with a hamstring problem.
“For tomorrow night he is not involved,” Klopp said. “All of the rest of the squad is fine.”