herald

Tuesday 19 November 2019

Fabinho may book a day off

Klopp has decision to make on his talisman ahead of Man City clash on November 10

Liverpool’s Fabinho battles with Tottenham Hotspur’s Dele Alli (left) during the Premier League match at Anfield
Liverpool’s Fabinho battles with Tottenham Hotspur’s Dele Alli (left) during the Premier League match at Anfield

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp admits he has a selection dilemma over key midfielder Fabinho.

The Brazil international is one booking away from a one-match ban so if he was to be yellow-carded at Aston Villa on Saturday he would miss the crunch clash with title rivals Manchester City at Anfield on November 10.

Fabinho has established himself as Klopp's first-choice midfielder and has started all but one of Liverpool's 13 Premier League and Champions League matches.

He has yet to lose any of the 30 league games he has started since arriving from Monaco for £43.7million in the summer of 2018 but Klopp has to consider whether to protect him at Villa Park.

"I don't know yet. We have to see. I know it (the potential suspension), of course. What we do with that I don't know," he said.

Asked what instructions he would give the player should he play the German joked: "No challenges at all!

"That's not possible against Aston Villa, playing without challenges, especially in that position. You cannot ask for this.

"The player knows it, I know it. Is there any game where you think that's a good game to get a fifth yellow card?

Smart

"Maybe other teams are pretty smart in that and take them, I don't know, I never did it.

"We have to deal with. Maybe he has to deal with it on the pitch or I have to deal with it with the line-up. We didn't make a final decision yet, so we will see."

Klopp could be without midfielder Naby Keita, who came off with a knock in the midweek Carabao Cup win over Arsenal, but defender Joel Matip is definitely absent.

The centre-back has missed the last three matches with the recurrence of a knee problem and is still some way from fitness.

"Naby I don't know yet, we will see," added Klopp.

"Joel is not available for the next few weeks.

"What could that mean? A couple is two, right? So a few is more than three."

Klopp also believes the League Cup is in need of an overhaul as the club try to thrash out a solution to their fixture congestion.

Their quarter-final against Villa was scheduled to be played the week commencing December 16 but the Reds will be in Qatar for the Club World Cup.

Klopp threatened to quit the competition if they were not given a favourable alternative slot - which is looking increasingly like January 7 or 8, the scheduled dates for the first leg of the semi-finals - but he has ruled out leaving players behind in England to fulfil the fixture while they are in Doha.

When Manchester United where involved in the 2000 World Team Championship (the forerunner of the Club World Cup), they pulled out of the FA Cup to aid their fixture congestion, but withdrawing midway through a competition would be equally as controversial.

"If I create headlines for a day then people say 'Why is he moaning? He earns so much money'. That's what I don't like," said Klopp.

"It is obvious it is too much. Absolutely obvious. Everyone involved in the game will tell you that. Let's have a look how they deal with it.

"Premier League: what a competition, sensationally cool. Then Carabao Cup: nice competition, what a wonderful game we had on Wednesday. But then in January, after a very busy schedule in December, there is two (legged) semi-finals.

Decision

"It is an easy decision for me to say 'OK, if you keep that competition why have two semi-finals?' That is the difference to other countries. We are the only country where no-one wants to touch it.

"The FA wants to touch the League Cup, the Football League wants to touch the FA Cup but no-one wants to talk about it."

Klopp also felt UEFA's new Nations League, a competition he has voiced his opposition to in the past, has exacerbated the problem in terms of demands being put on players.

"People say you should have a bigger squad but the game is not made for bigger squads," he added.

"You cannot make 40-player squads and 20 of them you send away until January and say 'Now you come in', but we pay for all of them. That's not possible, it's just not how it works.

"If you are an international player and play all the big competitions in the world, then you have two weeks per year off. That's a fact.

"The situation is clear, there would be a few solutions possible, but there was not one day that FIFA, UEFA, the Premier League, the Football League have to sit at a table and think about the players and not about their wallet."

Klopp said their talks about a solution had included the possibility of fielding one team in Qatar and another at home in the Carabao Cup.

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