EFL holds talks about Klopp’s fixture fears
Liverpool and the English Football League have discussed the possibility of Jurgen Klopp fielding two different teams in two different competitions and in two different time zones on the same night to resolve the club’s fixture chaos.
The most likely night for Liverpool to travel to Aston Villa in the Carabao Cup quarter-final is Jan 8, when the first leg of the semi-finals are scheduled to be played. Liverpool are happy to use that date, recognising there is little alternative without serious compromise to the quality of the squad in the last eight.
But during talks with the competition organisers, the possibility of Liverpool playing a team of youngsters at Villa Park on either Dec 17 or 18 was raised. That would create history as Klopp and his senior team will be in Qatar, where they play the semi-final of the Fifa Club World Cup on Dec 18. A Liverpool team would have to play a senior fixture either on the same day, or within 24 hours of each other, in different continents.
Klopp made 11 changes to his line-up for the fourth-round win over Arsenal, but included senior players such as Adam Lallana, Divock Origi, James Milner, Alex Oxlade-chamberlain and Naby Keita.
Teenagers Rhian Brewster and Harvey Elliott have also been regular squad members this season and would likely travel to Qatar.
That means it would demand even more changes to the Carabao
Cup squad to fulfil their fixture, making it less likely to go ahead in December. As well as requiring 36 players to cover both games, Liverpool would have to decide who managed the team at Villa Park.
A decision is expected soon, with Klopp increasing the pressure on the EFL by threatening to withdraw Liverpool from the competition.
With the Football Association and Premier League also involved in the talks, January is the most likely date. The winners of the tie would then play their semi-final, first leg on the date originally pencilled in for the second leg.
Despite Klopp’s withdrawal warning, there is little prospect of the EFL failing to find a solution as they look to protect the integrity of the competition. .
According to the cup rules, any club failing to fulfil their obligations in respect to any match on the appointed date is deemed guilty of misconduct and liable to pay compensation to their opponent.
If it got that far, the compensation figure would be determined by a disciplinary commission at a later date.