EFL holds talks about Klopp’s fix­ture fears

The Daily Telegraph - Sport - - Football - By Chris Bas­combe

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.

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