Jurgen Klopp confirmed that Liverpool will feature a team in their FA Cup fourth-round clash against Shrewsbury Town that will contain ‘fresh legs’ and could include the returning Fabinho, Dejan Lovren and Joel Matip.
According to the Guardian, the Premier League leaders will hand out first starts of 2020 to the trio who have all missed several weeks of action due to injury. Liverpool will likely make wholesale changes to the team that recorded their 14th consecutive league victory against Wolves on Thursday.
The European champions are currently 16 points clear at the top with a game in hand on current league holders Manchester City. The Shropshire clash represents the first of another hectic week for Klopp with Liverpool awaiting games against Shrewsbury, West Ham United and Southampton in the space of six days.
It presents Klopp with the opportunity to rest some of his senior stars allowing young talent and returning stars to take the limelight in the world’s oldest cup competition at the weekend. Fabinho made his second substitute appearance since recovering from ankle ligament damage at Wolves but has not started since a 1-1 stalemate with Napoli on 27 November.
Central defensive duo Lovren and Matip have not played since 10 December and 20 October respectively. All three could feature against the League One side, with Klopp likely to once again reward the group of players who shone during the 1-0 victory against Everton in the previous round.
Adrian is set to resume his duties as the Reds’ starting goalkeeper. However, James Milner (muscle) and Xherdan Shaqiri (calf) will both miss the clash as they continue with their recovery process.
Naby Keita is expected to be involved in squad preparations for the FA Cup bout whilst Nathaniel Clyne remains a long-term absentee for the Reds.
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A competition Klopp will hope to progress in considering the German has never made it past the fourth round of the FA Cup.
Whilst Shrewsbury will undoubtedly oppose a threat to Klopp’s much-changed Liverpool XI on the weekend, the blend of seniority and youth should be enough to get the better of a team struggling near the bottom of League One.
Matip and Lovren is about as experienced a defensive partnership you could hope for in a game of this magnitude. Both have started Champions League finals in the previous two seasons and the pair will hope to perform well to rival the outstanding form of Joe Gomez.
Meanwhile, Fabinho has recently established himself as one of the top defensive midfielders in world football and will be desperate to ease his way back into the team following a two-month injury.