Liverpool have a team selection problem as they prepare to face Aston Villa in the Carabao Cup on Tuesday.
We all know it’s a strange game anyway – the first-team isn’t even in the country. The Club World Cup semi-final in Qatar, less than 24 hours later, takes precedence and Villa will face a very young Liverpool team.
So young that Neil Critchley, the under 23s boss, will take charge – and he’s probably the best for the job.
But while he picks between his usual players – captain Curtis Jones aside as he’s in Qatar – there’s a real problem at full-back.
Neco Williams, for one, is in Qatar. Ki-Jana Hoever, another option at right-back, will surely play in the middle of defence.
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Yasser Larouci and Adam Lewis would be obvious contenders but both are injured – the Echo believes Larouci may make the bench, though.
And so, Critchley will have to shuffle things. Morgan Boyes could play centrally, shifting Hoever to right-back. That would leave Tony Gallacher at left-back – so that’s one way Critchley could work things without his first-choice options.
But how does he make things work without Jones? The teenager is arguably the best player in the team but Critchley needs to figure out how to beat Premier League opposition without him.
Harvey Elliott remains on Merseyside, thankfully. Liverpool have since added him to their Club World Cup squad but the forward can still play as he hasn’t travelled.
Hopefully, Elliott can add some of the magic missing with Jones. There’s also a doubt over Rhian Brewster – injury may rule him out, per the Echo.
That’s another problem Critchley needs to solve, then. We knew this game would be complicated – but this is on another level.