English Premiership

Klopp feeling the squeeze

Jurgen Klopp (Getty Images)
Jurgen Klopp (Getty Images)

Cape Town - Jurgen Klopp's most significant challenge as Liverpool manager at the moment is figuring out how to manage his squad in the face of an ever-expanding fixture list.

Having played nine games in January - more than any other Premier League team - Klopp's side's trip to leaders Leicester City on Tuesday is the first of at least seven matches in February.

That tally will rise to eight if they beat West Ham United in next week's FA Cup fourth-round replay.

Saturday's 0-0 draw against the Hammers was Liverpool's 37th fixture of the campaign, and it is mathematically possible that they could end up playing 69 competitive matches this season.

With that in mind, Klopp rested as many of his senior players as he possibly could at the weekend, making 10 changes to the side who had secured a League Cup final place by overcoming Stoke City on penalties at Anfield four days earlier.

Teenager Cameron Brannagan, making only his fourth senior start, took the opportunity to make a positive impression against West Ham, as did other players with limited experience such as fellow midfielders Kevin Stewart and Joao Teixeira and full-back Brad Smith.

But Klopp has indicated that he will return to his tried and trusted senior players to face Leicester.

"Those players are in our squad because they are an option for us," Klopp said. "But we have to decide if it is the right moment or not.

"Young lads often have waves in their development. They have ups and downs, and if you bring them in at the wrong moment, then it's not too good for their development.

"They have time to develop. That's the best thing. They have enough pressure. You don't need to make that pressure bigger."

One player set to retain his place is central defender Dejan Lovren, who took the opportunity to build up his match fitness after recovering from a recent hamstring injury.

He played his part in a Liverpool clean sheet at the weekend; only their third in nine matches.

Liverpool are one of only two clubs to have beaten Leicester in the league to date, so Tuesday's game gives Claudio Ranieri's men an opportunity to avenge that defeat in December and offer further proof of their title credentials.