Jurgen Klopp is ready to bring Divock Origi from the cold and admits Liverpool “would have been lost” without the academy players who stepped up to fill in after his squad was decimated with injuries.
In a season that has seen Liverpool beset by injuries, the Reds boss, at one stage, had 10 senior players out. That included the likes of long-term absentees Virgil Van Dijk and Joe Gomez. That left Klopp with no option but to dip into the wider squad.
He has not been let down as results have not suffered massively. Liverpool are level on points with Tottenham at the top of the Premier League. They’ve also already qualified for the knockout stages of the Champions League with a match to spare.
Last week two of his teenagers Neco Williams and Curtis Jones combined for the only goal against Ajax. That guaranteed the Reds top spot in their group. Meanwhile, 22-year-old Caoimhin Kelleher has kept clean sheets in back-to-back matches – his European and Premier League debuts.
Many of Liverpool’s youngsters may get a chance to impress in their own right on Wednesday. The Reds are in Denmark to play the dead rubber against Midtjylland. That said, the club could secure their record group stage points tally of 15. Here’s what Klopp had to say about that prospective record haul.
“We clearly had some problems injury-wise. We lost top-class players to injuries and of course it’s one door closes and another opens up,” Klopp said.
“You still need the right kids, the right players to use the chance.
“Without them we would have been lost, to be honest. Thank God it worked out.
“All the boys did it and you can go through them. What Rhys Williams did in the Champions League is exceptional, what Nat (Phillips) did when he played in the Premier League was absolutely exceptional. Neco played two really good games in a row, especially the last one.
“Curtis plays like he’s played 10 years for us. Caoimhin was always a talent and now he has the chance to show that on the big stage, to use that opportunity is nice for him.
“The biggest part is obviously is that they are really ready for this. They are the biggest reason for it.”
Origi to get rare Liverpool start
Klopp will have none of the players currently injured – Xherdan Shaqiri, Alisson Becker, James Milner, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Thiago Alcantara, Van Dijk and Gomez – available for Wednesday’s game. However, striker Origi is expected to start having been left out of Sunday’s matchday squad.
“Divock is not injured but we don’t have a lot of players and our offensive options are better than other areas. I cannot just break up three strikers,” Klopp explained.
“He is in a good shape but not in the squad for the Premier League last time.”
The manager also has a decision to make over his goalkeeper as Kelleher has proved to be an able deputy for Alisson.
With his first-choice goalkeeper still not ready to return from a hamstring problem, Klopp could be forgiven for protecting the Republic of Ireland Under-21 international and starting his previous established number two Adrian.
However, it seems the Reds boss is keen to keep faith with a player who has performed so confidently having made just six first-team appearances.
“Usually a goalie you don’t have to change that often. Nobody told me anything different other than Caoimhin should be ready again, which is a good sign,” he added.