Klopp urges Reds to prove final worth again

Liverpool playmaker Philippe Coutinho is set to return to action against Southampton today following seven weeks out with an ankle ligament injury.
Liverpool playmaker Philippe Coutinho is set to return to action against Southampton today following seven weeks out with an ankle ligament injury.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Jurgen Klopp has urged Liverpool to make amends for their FA Cup flop by delivering a dominant display in today's League Cup semi-final first leg against Southampton.

He fielded Liverpool's youngest-ever line-up (average age of 21 years and 296 days) against Plymouth in the FA Cup third round on Sunday and the rookies failed to impress as the fourth-tier minnows easily held on for a goal-less draw at Anfield.

Liverpool can still advance in the FA Cup when they face Plymouth in a replay, but that is on the back burner for now as the Reds focus on their other road to Wembley.

After losing to Manchester City on penalties in last season's League Cup final, Liverpool are one step away from a return to Wembley and Klopp will send out a stronger line-up at St Mary's as he looks to get his side back on track.

"There is no more pressure on us. It is an opportunity. It is always a new day," said Klopp.

"I said to the lads last year it would not be the last final they would be involved in and this is the first chance to prove this."

Liverpool's hopes of advancing to the final will be aided by the absence of Southampton defender Jose Fonte.

Southampton manager Claude Puel said Fonte will not be part of his squad after his captain handed in a transfer request.

"We will see for the next game. For me, it is important to keep stability in defence first, and second, we will see what the situation of Jose in this market is," added Puel.

While Fonte is likely to be on his way out of Southampton, Klopp has dismissed all the transfer talk linking Philippe Coutinho to top Spanish clubs, indicating that Liverpool have no plans to sell the Brazil playmaker.

British media had linked Coutinho to Real Madrid and Barcelona before an ankle ligament injury sidelined the Brazilian for seven weeks.

"We never had any ideas or any plans or any talks about this because he is our player and there are no other ideas. And nothing has changed," the German manager said.

He is also confident that Coutinho could play a role in today's clash but is not sure if the Brazil international could then recover to feature in the Premier League against Manchester United on Sunday.

"The time is not long enough for him to be 100 per cent for Manchester United but he could play," Klopp said.

"In this moment I would say it makes sense for him to be involved against Southampton, in the squad, and we will see what happens there."



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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 11, 2017, with the headline 'Klopp urges Reds to prove final worth again'. Print Edition | Subscribe