Juergen Klopp backs Liverpool’s FA Cup youngsters to crush West Ham in replay

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 31 January, 2016, 11:26am
UPDATED : Sunday, 31 January, 2016, 11:26am

Juergen Klopp praised his young Liverpool players after a 0-0 FA Cup fourth-round draw against West Ham that added to his club’s growing fixture list.

Klopp named inexperienced youngsters Cameron Brannagan, Brad Smith, Kevin Stewart and Joao Teixeira in his line-up as he made 10 changes to the side who overcame Stoke on penalties last Tuesday to reach the League Cup final.

The Liverpool manager was keen to rest key players ahead of Tuesday’s trip to Premier League leaders Leicester, as his side faced their ninth match of a busy January.

We will have a team for the replay at West Ham, and maybe it won’t be too far away from this team today
Juergen Klopp

On Saturday, they were unable to find their way to victory, despite creating several good chances in the second half, with Teixeira and Christian Benteke both failing to beat goalkeeper Darren Randolph when well placed.

Klopp, though, felt his young players justified their inclusion in the side, and indicated they are likely to feature in the replay at Upton Park, to take place the midweek after next.

“We will have a team for the replay at West Ham, and maybe it won’t be too far away from this team today,” said Klopp.

“You can ask me about Joao Teixeira and Cameron Brannagan, but if you want to mention names, there are others too. Five weeks ago, Kevin Stewart was at Swindon and not playing too often.

“Brad Smith made a big step in the right direction and did really well at full back. That was really cool.

“Sheyi Ojo came in and again did well as a substitute, and so did Jerome Sinclair. So there’s a lot of potential.

“That’s very important. But it’s important not just to know about it. The players have to show it, but as a manager, you also have to show that you are seeing their steps. That’s what we tried today.

“I’m pleased with this. These boys would have deserved to win tonight, but it is what it is.”

Klopp still has a number of key players out injured, including strikers Daniel Sturridge and Danny Ings, defenders Martin Skrtel and Joe Gomez and playmaker Philippe Coutinho.

With the transfer window closing on Monday, the manager joked about buying a new team for the replay.

He has no intention of doing so, and even if he did, they would not be eligible as they were not registered in time for the original tie.

“I joked that we would buy a team for the rematch, but we should not go into the transfer market just because we have one game more.”

West Ham manager Slaven Bilic, meanwhile, gave credit to his side for being resilient, as they overcame the first-half losses to injury of defender James Tomkins and midfielder Chiekhou Kouyate.

“Overall, I am happy with the result and I congratulate my guys. Drawing at Anfield is tough. It is also tough to keep a clean sheet an Anfield,” said Bilic.

“Nobody wants to play a replay because of the schedule, but we can live with that. It’s much worse for them. We didn’t deserve more than a replay tonight, but we also deserved it because we defended really well.”