Jurgen Klopp is being backed to take charge of Liverpool’s Carabao Cup clash at Aston Villa before boarding a plane and overseeing their game in Doha just 24 hours later.
The club are to employ a rarely-seen split squad scenario after their last-eight tie was confirmed for its original date of December 17, the day before the team play a Club World Cup semi-final in Doha.
Fixture congestion – the Reds have already had to postpone one Premier League match to fit in their trip to the Gulf – meant it was impossible to fit in the tie before the scheduled semi-final first leg in early January.
So Liverpool have reluctantly agreed to fulfill both fixtures using the full extent of their extended first-team squad and youth team players, with Klopp explaining the club’s thinking over the plan here and making a joke about Aston Villa in the process.
There is still plenty to work out around the merits of Liverpool playing twice in 24hrs – not least of which how their squad will be divided – but in the meantime, Klopp has been tipped by former Aston Villa striker Darius Vassell to be in the dugout for both games.
“This is why you have your specialist staff that you’ve employed in place,” Vassell told Sky Sports News.
“They will have to manage those things, I think if it’s feasible for Jurgen to get to both games then they will probably do that.
“The aftermath of that would have to be managed by the staff, it will be new to them.
“They will be more than capable but it’s difficult to say what will happen and how the decision will be made which makes it intriguing.
“I’d love to know what he actually ends up deciding to do, for me if I was a manager I would certainly try and go to both games.”
Liverpool are expected to utilise their squad in both games by opting for a mixture of youth and experience over the two competitions, but Vassell believes they have the resources to cope.
“There’s a lot of staff in football clubs now, I think that players have to take some responsibility in being able to manage themselves in difficult times,” he added.
“I’m sure that they can. As soon as they get through it positively and focus on finishing the season strongly the better.
“It’s certainly a difficult conundrum for the manager to be in right now.”
It was only Friday that Klopp had ruled out the possibility of fielding two separate teams, but now he claims it was the most suitable outcome to the situation.
“We have to find solutions,” said Klopp. “The problems are obvious.
“Every year we do the same again. Some find it funny – ‘five games in three days – let’s see how it works out’.”