NORWICH, January 22 – Liverpool continue their marathon season at Norwich on Saturday with manager Jurgen Klopp again ready to juggle his resources.
The Reds’ trip to Carrow Road will be their 35th game of the campaign, although the Premier League is only just past the half-way mark.
Liverpool are still in the Europa League, the FA Cup and next Tuesday face Stoke in the second leg of their League Cup semi-final.
That workload has fully extended Klopp’s squad, which he is hoping to strengthen with the capture of Brazilian striker Alex Teixeira from Shakhtar Donetsk.
Klopp fielded a side containing several members of Liverpool’s under-21 squad for their 3-0 FA Cup third round replay win over Exeter on Wednesday.
But while the rookies impressed, including 18-year-old winger Sheyi Ojo, who became the youngest FA Cup goalscorer in Liverpool’s history, they will be heading back to the bench as Klopp restores his senior players to league duty.
“We’ll work with them,” said Klopp. “We can’t bring them all in the Premier League every week.
“We need to keep them here and work with them. Football is not just individual development, you have to show you can develop as a team.”
Goalkeeper Simon Mignolet, fresh from signing a new five-year contract at Anfield, played against fourth tier Exeter as one of five senior players in the line-up.
Midfielder Joe Allen was also given a run out and having scored only twice in the past two years, made it two goals in two games as Liverpool set up a fourth-round meeting with West Ham.
Before that, they will be looking to build on a 1-0 aggregate lead against Stoke with a place in the Wembley final against Manchester City or Everton at stake.
– Momentum –
And Allen, who has rebuffed interest from former club Swansea, is delighted to be challenging on several fronts, with a top-six finish in the Premier League and a guaranteed return to Europe still also a target.
“We’ve got a foot in all the competitions and that’s what you want as players, you want to be fighting on all fronts,” Allen said.
“Hopefully we can build a bit of momentum now in the second half of the season and let’s see what happens.”
Ninth-placed Liverpool have failed to win any of their last three league games, though, and need to bounce back against relegation-threatened Norwich when Klopp will be looking for his returning big guns to fire.
Liverpool will give fitness checks to defenders Dejan Lovren and Martin Skrtel, as well as forward Philippe Coutinho who has been out for four games with a hamstring injury.
Norwich have slipped back towards the bottom three after successive league defeats that left them two points and two places above the relegation zone.
The performance in last weekend’s 3-0 defeat at Bournemouth was in stark contrast to the form Norwich had shown at the end of December when they won three of their four games.
Canaries boss Alex Neil has responded by bring in midfielder Steven Naismith from Everton and former Wolfsburg defender Timm Klose.
With Portuguese right-back Ivo Pinto and winger Matt Jarvis having arrived earlier in the month the new recruits will be expected to make an immediate impression and help preserve the club’s Premier League status.
A lot will be demanded of Naismith in particular with the Scotland international saying: “Since the manager came in, he’s shown a desire to build something here and that’s something I definitely believe in and want to be part of.
“I’m expecting to go straight into the training. The manager will obviously have his thoughts for the game and hopefully I’m involved in some respect.”