Football

Klopp insists no first-teamers will play in FA Cup replay

FA CUP, 4TH ROUND
SHREWSBURY LIVERPOOL
2 2
(Jason Cummings 65-pen, 75) (Curtis Jones 15, Donald Love 46-og)

Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp confirmed he will not take charge of the Reds’ FA Cup replay against Shrewsbury, nor will any senior players from the European champions take part.

Klopp made 11 changes as the League One side, 59 places below Liverpool in the English football pyramid, came from 2-0 down on Monday morning (Singapore time) to draw 2-2 and secure a replay at Anfield.

A much-changed Liverpool appeared to be cruising into the fifth round for the first time since Klopp took over in 2015, but Shrewsbury substitute Jason Cummings had the compact New Meadow Stadium rocking with a memorable brace.

First he coolly tucked away a 65th-minute penalty and then he outpaced Liverpool’s nervy back four to beat Adrian with a cool right-footed finish from the edge of the area.

Liverpool, who have been untouchable in the English Premier League this season, making a first title for 30 years almost inevitable, took the lead through teenager Curtis Jones after 15 minutes.

The seven-time Cup winners doubled their lead 28 seconds after half-time when Shrewsbury’s Donald Love scored an own goal.

But the Reds lost concentration and allowed Shrewsbury to snatch a draw.

Klopp confirmed that even experienced players such as Adrian, Joel Matip, Dejan Lovren, Fabinho and Divock Origi who played in this match are set to miss the replay as it falls a few days into Liverpool’s two-week winter break from EPL action.

Klopp said he has already promised that week off to first-team players and that Under-23s coach Neil Critchley will take charge of team.

“In April 2019, we got a letter from the Premier League where they asked us to respect the winter break, not to organise international friendlies and not to organise competitive games in respect of it,” said Klopp.

“I have said to the boys already, two weeks ago, that we will have a winter break, so it means we will not be there – it will be the kids who play that game because they cannot deal with us like nobody cares about it.

“I know it is not very popular, but that’s the way I see it and, how I said, the Premier League asked us to respect the winter break and that’s what we do it. If then the FA do not respect it then we cannot change.”

Liverpool went out of the League Cup in December when a team fielding five debutants and an average age of 19 was beaten 5-0 by Aston Villa.

Critchley was also in charge for that game with Klopp and the first team away in Qatar for the Club World Cup.

The move by Klopp puts further pressure on the Football Association to do away with replays from the FA Cup.

For the first time this season, all fifth-round matches will be played midweek and go straight to extra-time if they finish in a draw.

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has also called for an end to replays, while Brentford coach Thomas Frank said he would have done everything in his power to ensure his side’s 1-0 defeat by Leicester on Saturday did not end in a draw.

“I think that is part of killing one of the finest cup tournaments in the world,” said Frank. “They can kill it a little bit with replays. I don’t get it.” – AFP

liverpoolShrewsburyFA Cupjuergen klopp