Liverpool outcast set to start FA Cup clash against Exeter
By North-west correspondent Alex Stevens
Jose Enrique is set to play for Liverpool for the first time in a year on Friday night.
The Spanish left-back is expected to play as an emergency centre-back in the Merseysiders’ FA Cup clash at minnow Exeter.
Enrique is likely to be partnered by Tiago Ilori, who had his season-long loan at Aston Villa terminated on Thursday having not played a game for the Premier League’s bottom club.
Liverpool have taken an inexperienced squad to St James Park for Friday’s third-round match, with eight of the likely starting XI having played four matches or fewer for the club. Three are in line for their debuts.
With 13 players sidelined through injury and Jurgen Klopp refusing to risk those involved in four games in 11 days over the festive period, Nathaniel Clyne, Alberto Moreno and Emre Can will not start against the League Two side.
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Philippe Coutinho and Dejan Lovren, who sustained hamstring injuries in Tuesday’s League Cup win at Stoke, have been ruled out for at least the rest of January and 10 days respectively, while Kolo Toure misses the tie having suffered cramp at the Britannia Stadium.
Toure’s absence deprives Liverpool of all their experienced central defenders and such is the paucity of options that Enrique and Ilori, who has never featured for the club since arriving in 2013, are in line to start.
The Spanish left-back last appeared for Liverpool in the FA Cup draw against Bolton on 24 January last year and has played 84 minutes since December 2014.
He was frozen out by the former Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers having rejected opportunities to leave Anfield and was training apart from the senior squad when Klopp was appointed by the club in mid-October.