PREVIEW By North-west correspondent Alex Stevens
Jurgen Klopp is set to ring the changes for the fourth consecutive weekend as he makes full use of his squad in the wake of Thursday night’s Europa League clash against Villarreal.
The Merseysiders travel to Swansea on Sunday for a 12pm kick-off and, with hopes of a top-four finish looking unlikely, a shadow team is set to be selected due to the short turnaround between matches.
The German manager made 10 changes for the 2-1 win over Bournemouth a fortnight ago as he rested key players and he could go one further by altering his entire line-up for the latest Premier League showdown.
Klopp revealed on Friday that deputy goalkeeper Danny Ward is set to make his second top-flight start in place of Simon Mignolet, who will be rested ahead of next Thursday’s Europa League semi-final second leg with Villarreal.
It will be Ward’s second appearance following an accomplished debut in the win at Bournemouth.
“Danny did really well against Bournemouth, especially with no rhythm, it was very impressive,” Klopp said on Friday, as quoted by the Liverpool Echo. “I haven’t had a final talk with (goalkeeping coach) John Achterberg yet. But it is likely he will play at Swansea. I just need to find out how he feels after the long trip.
“He will certainly get another game before the end of the season because of the intensity of our schedule. Yes, probably (he will play).”
With the first-teamers set to be wrapped in cotton wool as Liverpool attempt to reach their first European final in nine years, the youngsters will be once again be given their chance to shine.
Brad Smith and Connor Randall are likely to start in the full-back positions, Martin Skrtel is set to play at centre-back, with Pedro Chirivella, Kevin Stewart and Cameron Brannagan in the central midfield positions and Sheyi Ojo and Jordon Ibe out wide.
Daniel Sturridge was controversially left on the bench for the entirety of the midweek trip to Villarreal but he might be held back for next Thursday’s crucial second leg, a match he is likely to start as Liverpool aim to overhaul the Spanish team’s one-goal advantage.
That could mean Christian Benteke, who came off the bench for the final minutes at Villarreal, given the chance to start his first Premier League match since early January.
Liverpool (possible): Ward; Randall, Skrtel, Ilori, Smith; Chirivella, Stewart; Ojo, Brannagan Ibe; Benteke.