Jurgen Klopp has told Liverpool they can handle the absence of injured playmaker Philippe Coutinho – and says his absence cannot be used as an excuse.
The Brazil international damaged ankle ligaments in Saturday’s win over Sunderland and could be out for as long as six weeks, potentially ruling him out of the busy festive period.
Klopp’s forward line has already been affected by the loss of Danny Ings to a season-ending knee injury while Daniel Sturridge has a niggling calf problem.
Liverpool’s other successful creative force this season, Adam Lallana, is still not fit after a groin injury sustained on England duty but Klopp is confident they can cope.
“Phil Coutinho is a really good football player so if we cannot use him for the next few days or weeks each team in the world would feel it,” he said.
“But it is no excuse for anything. As good as he is he does not decide games by himself, although it sometimes looks like this.
“It is a team performance we create and he is a very important part of this team, absolutely.
“Of course we can handle it. If he is not in you have to show – and we will show.
“Phil’s not in, Adam’s close but not in, Daniel’s close but not in – all quality players and we miss them but you don’t look for excuses.
“We like to play football and I think the way we play it is possible without them but it would be better when they are all fit.”
Klopp on Leeds clash
Reds manager Klopp is still finalising his preparations to face Leeds in the EFL Cup quarter-final at Anfield on Tuesday.
However, he will not be contacting best friend and Huddersfield boss David Wagner despite him having already beaten their near-neighbours twice in the year he has been in charge.
“I don’t ask for advice, not because I don’t respect his advice but because it is a different game,” added Klopp.
“Leeds made a few changes in the last few rounds so I have no idea what team Garry (Monk) will play.
“Maybe I will call him (Wagner) but not about how to beat Leeds.”
Monk expects huge challenge
Leeds boss Monk goes into the Anfield match under no illusions about the quality of the eight-time winners of the competition.
“It’s a great challenge, that’s how we have to look at it. Our young players have a bit of freedom to go there,” he said.
“We’re under no pressure, the odds are against us, but we have good belief in ourselves.
“It’s important these players go through this type of experience because if you want to progress and get to the highest level of football – staff and players – we have to embrace this type of challenge and the atmosphere we will face.”