Striker set to start for Liverpool in clash against Exeter
By North-west correspondent Alex Stevens
Christian Benteke is expected to start for Liverpool in their FA Cup replay against Exeter on Wednesday night, Football Insider sources understand.
The Belgium international is in line to lead an inexperienced team as Jurgen Klopp rings the changes from the team that lost 1-0 to Manchester United in the Premier League last Sunday.
Benteke is currently Liverpool’s leading scorer with seven goals this season but he has only started nine of the 22 games for which Klopp has been in charge.
The £32.5million signing’s situation was placed into perspective last week when he was used only as substitute in the matches against Arsenal and United when Liverpool were chasing a late goal.
Klopp will once again principally field a team of novices against Exeter, and they are expected to be joined by Benteke in attack.
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When asked if the 25-year-old has a future at Anfield, Klopp replied: “You are too quick in your judgements. If I worked like this, I would send players who miss chances to the next club or whatever. Stay cool. Of course he has a future. That is not a question.
“What we have to do is think what team fits together for the special game. For the next game it could be different. We have to think about how we create chances. First of all we cannot hope that we can get the ball into the box and then maybe Christian will finish it.
“He is a goalscorer and makes chances and so on. That is all good. He has always the possibility to play.”
Benteke has said that Klopp tried to sign him for Borussia Dortmund in the summer of 2013 and the German explained in detail why he looked at taking him to the Bundesliga and the qualities that alerted him in the first place.
“I met him, plus his agent, at Dusseldorf airport,” said Klopp at his media conference on Tuesday. “We saw a lot of games he played in: saving the ball, technical skills, heading, finishing skills — all this stuff. From all those things he is a complete striker but, at the end, you have to work for it.
“For this situation you have to look how it fits. For example, we had our games with Roberto [Firmino] and Christian at No 10 and No 9, it did not work in this moment but that does not mean we can never play like this. In this moment it doesn’t fit too well so we have to think about how to make it easier.
“To have Christian on the bench is a quality sign and to bring him in with his qualities in a close game. I understand we don’t score enough goals and you ask about the striker, the only striker in your mind we have. He is on the bench and that seems to be strange but not in my opinion.”
Steven Caulker, signed last week on loan, and goalkeeper Danny Ward, recalled from a loan spell, will not be able to play on Wednesday night as they were not registered before the first game. They will be eligible should Liverpool progress.