'It will be the kids who play that game' – Liverpool to field U-23 team for FA Cup replay

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp will play a youth team in their FA Cup fourth-round replay at home to Shrewsbury to “respect the winter break” initiated by the Premier League.

Having seen his side throw away a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 with the League One side, the German now faces another match in what has already been a packed schedule this season.

The inaugural Premier League winter break comes into force next month and while a cup replay at Anfield interferes with that, Klopp is not intending to use his senior players.

He also will not be present and, like when the Reds were in Qatar winning the Club World Cup, under-23 manager Neil Critchley will take charge of a youth team as he did against Aston Villa in the quarter-final of the Carabao Cup.

“Our situation is the following: we’ve known for a couple of weeks, in fact we’ve known longer, that it would be like this,” he said.

“In April 2019 we got a letter from the Premier League, I think, where they asked us to respect the winter break and not to organise international friendlies or competitive games. We respect that.

“So I said to the boys already two weeks ago that we will have a winter break which means we will not be there. It will be the kids who play that game.

“You cannot deal with us like nobody cares about it. I know that it’s not very popular but that’s the way I see it.

“The Premier League asked us to respect the winter break. That’s what we do. If the FA doesn’t respect that, then we cannot change it. We will not be there.

“Does that mean I won’t be there? Yes. Neil Critchley will be in charge.”

Klopp has long been a critic of the football calendar, when games are scheduled and how frequently, so feels it would be hypocritical not to take advantage of a break which has been pencilled in for a year.

“It’s only in this country you ask this question. It’s a winter break – what do you think?,” he added when asked whether the players would get a rest.

“I can give you the letter (from the Premier League), it’s like it is, we have to respect it.

“We have to respect the players’ welfare. They need a rest. They need a mental rest, a physical rest, and that’s what the winter break is all about.”

It would have been easily avoidable had they not squandered the advantage given to them by Curtis Jones’ second successive FA Cup game with a goal and an own goal from Donald Love.

Shrews substitute Jason Cummings came off the bench to score twice in 10 minutes and could have snatched an added-time winner.

Boss Sam Ricketts said some of his players were disappointed not to have won.

“I’m delighted, I thought the players were excellent. I thought they carried out the game-plan to the letter the whole game and even though we were behind 1-0 I always thought we were in the game,” he said.

“We had chances to equalise, even at 2-0 a lot of teams would have gone under but we carried on and deservedly got the draw.

“We have done it many times this season, we’ve had that spirit to come back and a couple of players were disappointed at the end we had not won it.

“I can’t really ask for much more than to hold Liverpool to a 2-2 draw and earn a replay. We had to work hard for our goals, we gifted them their goals.”

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