By Alex Stevens
Jurgen Klopp has promised that he will select a strong team for Liverpool’s EFL Cup clash against Derby on Tuesday night.
But does the German manager really need to risk his in-form big guns when there are much bigger weekend fish to fry?
Certainly, Derby are no mugs. Nigel Pearson’s side may be 20th in the Championship but they have some fine players and will be roared on by a home crowd craving an upset.
Moreover, Liverpool do not have any European commitments this season and are able to pool their resources more evenly between league and cup competitions than in Klopp’s first campaign.
Nevertheless, the lessons of overtraining and overplaying key men needs to be learned after so many soft tissue injuries sustained by Liverpool player’s during the last 12 months.
It is not a coincidence and would be foolish to ignore.
Despite the lighter schedule, Klopp should use the early rounds of the EFL Cup to give breathers to his senior stars and provide some much-needed game time to the fringe players and fit-again regulars.
This would allow Roberto Firmino, Loris Karius and Emre Can, recovered from groin, hand and ankle injuries respectively, the chance to be joined by senior players like Divock Origi, Danny Ings, Alberto Moreno, Marko Grujic and Ragnar Klavan, as well as regular members of the Under-23s such as Trent Alexander-Arnold and Sheji Ojo.
Klopp could make 11 changes from the team that memorably overcame Chelsea 2-1 at Stamford Bridge last Friday and still field a starting line-up capable of overcoming Derby on their home pitch.
He would still be able to name senior stars such as Philippe Coutinho Adam Lallana, Sadio Mane, Daniel Sturridge and Jordan Henderson on the substitute’s bench, in case they were needed.
This would enable Liverpool to keep their big guns fresh for Saturday’s Premier League clash against Hull.
In other Liverpool team news, a defender has signed a two-year contract.