Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has stressed that the Capital One Cup is “very, very important,” although admitted he will rotate his squad for Wednesday’s fourth-round match at home to Bournemouth on Wednesday.
Klopp has named the same starting lineup for all three of his matches since taking charge. But, with a big game upcoming at Chelsea on Saturday, the former Borussia Dortmund coach has claimed that he needs to refresh his selection for what will be the club’s fourth game in 12 days.
“We have to change the team a little bit,” he said at his pre-match press conference, according to Liverpool’s official website. “At this moment I don’t know how many changes we will make.
“I will make the changes not because this tournament isn’t important for me -- that is important for me to say. When I make changes, it is because I want to win the game -- that’s the only reason for this. It is always because we believe we can win with that team and we always do what we believe we have to do in that moment.
“With this game, Bournemouth, I will play for the first time in this cup and it is very important -- a very, very important game -- but I know we have had three games in the last eight or nine days in the legs, so we have to change.”
One change will be enforced on Klopp, with midfielder James Milner ruled out through a one-match suspension. He will also be prevented from fielding Christian Benteke for the first time from the start, after the Belgium international suffered a fresh injury setback and was ruled out with a knee ligament strain. Wednesday’s encounter also comes too soon for the return of fellow-striker Daniel Sturridge.
Instead Klopp is expected to hand first Liverpool starts to a trio of youngsters. Midfielder Cameron Brannagan, who made his debut off the bench in last month’s Europa League draw with Bordeaux is set to join 22-year-old attacking midfielder João Teixeira and 20-year-old right-back Connor Randall in the lineup.
The young trio will attempt to help Klopp get a first win after beginning with three straight draws to extend Liverpool’s streak of ties to five matches. The Mereseysiders will have reason for confidence against a Bournemouth side they beat 1-0 earlier in the season and who come into the fixture off the back of successive 5-1 defeats in the Premier League.
Despite those recent struggles, Bournemouth remain two points clear of the relegation zone. And rather than a distraction to their primary objective this season of avoiding the drop, Bournemouth boost manager Jason Tindall has stated that the match with Liverpool could provide a much-needed spur to their league form.
“Off the back of two defeats you want to win your next game as quickly as possible,” he said, reports the club’s website. “This game gives us an opportunity to that, albeit against a really good side. If we can go there and put in a good performance then of course it will give us huge confidence. It could be the catalyst to getting us back performing well and winning in the Premier League.”
Bournemouth have made widespread changes to their lineups for victories over lower league opponents Hartlepool United and Preston North End in previous rounds of the Capital One Cup. But Tindall has admitted that the club’s current rash of injuries means that may not be possible this time around.
D: Randall, Toure, Sakho, Moreno
M: Allen, Brannagan
Ibe, Teixeira, Lallana
D: Francis, Cook, Cargill, Smith
M: Atsu, Gosling, O’Kane Stanislas
F: King, Kermorgant
TV channel: Sky Sports 1 (U.K. only)
Kickoff time: 3:45 p.m. EDT
Live stream: beIN Sports Connect