Football

Klopp delighted with young guns

Liverpool boss will do everything to help youngsters blossom

Juergen Klopp praised his Liverpool youngsters after avoiding an FA Cup upset at Plymouth.

Liverpool set up a fourth-round tie at home to Wolves, with old head Lucas Leiva scoring a rare goal in their 1-0 win at Home Park yesterday morning (Singapore time).

Klopp named a stronger side than he had done in the goalless draw against the League Two high-fliers at Anfield about two week ago, when he fielded the youngest starting line-up in the club's history.

But four teenagers still started the third-round replay yesterday - Trent Alexander-Arnold, Joe Gomez, Ovie Ejaria and Ben Woodburn.

Another two teenagers, Harry Wilson and Sheyi Ojo, came on as second-half substitutes.

"It was tough again, but we did better than Anfield in the right moments," Liverpool manager Klopp said.

"There were a lot of challenges for the young players.

"We were playing live on television against a fourth-division team and everybody thinks you are three or four classes better.

EMBARRASSMENT

"You do not want to feel the embarrassment of losing a game like this. I thought I could see that a bit when it started happening to them in the first half.

"I thought at half-time we could fix this, and we were kind of back in the race and controlled the game well after.

"I'm happy about their potential and we will do everything we can to let it grow. But they have a big job to do, too."

Lucas' 18th-minute header from a Philippe Coutinho corner was his first goal since scoring in a Europa League tie against Steaua Bucharest in October 2010.

But Klopp said: "He played in an old-against-young match last week when we finished training and he was top scorer.

"I was really surprised he didn't score for that long.

"But he has a great personality, is a good player and a really good guy.

"Sometimes, you have to line up without him, and it's not his hobby to accept this.

"But he's okay and really important for us."

The German also insisted that Lucas, who has started only three EPL games this season and has been linked with a move to Italian club Inter Milan, will be staying at Liverpool beyond the January transfer window.

Asked if the 30-year-old Brazilian was definitely staying, he replied: "From my point of view, yes.

"What is definitely in this job? We have a kind of agreement. So I would say yes."

Plymouth almost forced the tie into extra time when Jake Jervis volleyed against the post 15 minutes from time.

After being criticised by some for being ultra-defensive at Anfield, where they had only 23 per cent possession, Plymouth had some good moments and denied Liverpool an easy match.

Plymouth boss Derek Adams said: "You're disappointed when you go out of the cup, but Liverpool have been very respectful playing the players they did tonight and we pushed them all the way." - PA SPORT

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