The Reds host Ajax on Tuesday night in search of a place in the Champions League knockout stages, where a point would be enough to guarantee their spot with a game to spare.
With injuries still to contend with, the boss had a tight-knit group to oversee which did not include James Milner – the latest to sustain a soft-tissue injury in the draw at Brighton.
He was also with Keita, whom the boss had hinted that more would be disclosed on his fitness in his pre-match press conference earlier in the day having been out of action since the win over Leicester with a respective hamstring strain.
And while his absence is a blow, it is a positive sign that he should not be far away from a return to action with midfield options still slim despite Jordan Henderson‘s return.
The captain was one member of an 18-man outfield squad who took to the training pitches at a cold and windy Kirkby on Monday evening, where the sight of Joel Matip was a welcome one.
The centre-back sat out of the weekend’s draw as part of cautious rotation following on from his history of injuries and Liverpool’s centre-back crisis.
There will be no shortage of forward options, on the other hand, with Diogo Jota, Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino, in addition to Takumi Minamino and Divock Origi all taking to the field.
Youngsters Neco Williams and Rhys Williams were similarly present as they look to seize another opportunity in the absence of key senior players, with the duo having received praise from Klopp earlier in the day.
“They did a lot of really good stuff, helped us enormously, are very important – not only in the moment, but especially in the moment,” the manager said of the pair.
And fellow academy stars Leighton Clarkson and Jake Cain continue their bid to catch the eye as they look to turn a place in the matchday squad into a maiden Champions League appearance.Liverpool squad training pre-Ajax
Defenders: Matip, Fabinho, Robertson, N. Williams, R. Williams, Tsimikas, Phillips*, Koumetio
Midfielders: Henderson, Wijnaldum, Jones, Cain, Clarkson
Forwards: Salah, Mane, Jota, Origi, Minamino
* Not part of Champions League squad
Liverpool’s hectic schedule continues merely three days after their last outing in the 1-1 draw at Brighton as they welcome Ajax under the lights at Anfield in another all-important clash.
With a considerable injury list to consider it’s another challenge to overcome for the Reds against the free-scoring visitors as they aim to reach the last-16 with one group game to spare.
It will be another juggling act for Klopp and co. across defence and midfield and they will hope the likes of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, Diogo Jota and Roberto Firmino have their goalscoring boots on.
Here’s how the Reds could line up against the Dutch side at Anfield.Team News
When the going gets tough, the tough get going ought to be the phrase for Liverpool so far this season.
Thankfully, the Reds were boosted by the return of Jordan Henderson in the second-half of the draw at Brighton following on from his enforced absence after the international break.
But, as ever, Klopp had one given back and another taken away with James Milner the next in line for the treatment room after sustaining a hamstring injury after playing three games in six days, leaving the midfield options slim once again.
With the manager confirming Thiago‘s return will not come until after the New Year and Naby Keita and Xherdan Shaqiri still on the comeback trail, it leaves Curtis Jones, Gini Wijnaldum and Fabinho as the senior options in the middle of the park.
The latter could be drafted in from his station in defence to assist in rotation, with Joel Matip expected to return straight to the fold after being carefully managed over the weekend.
The match will also come too soon for Trent Alexander-Arnold, but the right-back is making positive steps forward and could return within the week.Liverpool’s XI vs. Ajax
All eyes will be on the defence and midfield as rotation and availability come into play for this one and while Neco Williams struggled to find his feet at Brighton, another opportunity is to come his way.
The 19-year-old is set to be joined by Matip after he was wisely rested last time out, where he could then be joined by Fabinho to help continue to solidify their partnership alongside Andy Robertson.
It leaves experienced options across the next line slim and Wijnaldum could be made to turn out once more alongside Henderson and Curtis Jones with the pair having only come on in the second 45 on the south coast.
They will inject some fresh legs into proceedings and a forward line of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane could be used to create a solid early foundation – with the No. 10 having only played 26 minutes on Saturday.
A strong lineup which would then allow Klopp to utilise all five substitutes available to him with greater effect:
On the other hand, the desire to rest Wijnaldum could win out as he has played the second-most minutes of any other Red so far this season, including 240 minutes from the last three games.
Adding experience ahead of the defensive line would certainly be handy against an Ajax outfit who have scored 31 goals in their five league games since they last played the Reds.
This would then provide the chance to lineup in a 4-2-3-1 system to enable Diogo Jota to join the usual front three and help ensure the result is put beyond doubt, with the likes of Jones, Minamino, Tsimikas and Origi available from the bench:
The personnel available certainly makes for an interesting team selection for Klopp but it would not be a surprise to see a strong XI with the aim of tying the game up as swiftly and effectively as possible.
While Liverpool certainly like to do things the hard way, being able to rest easy ahead of the final group game at Midtjylland would come as a major source of relief and offer a slight reprieve within the unforgiving schedule.
Andy Robertson wants Liverpool to seize the opportunity of reaching the Champions League last 16 when they host AFC Ajax on Tuesday night.
The Reds head into their fifth game of Group D knowing a draw or win against the Eredivisie side will guarantee progress to the knockout rounds for a fourth consecutive season.
They’ll have to overcome a team Robertson described as a ‘European giant’ to do so, but the reward for a positive result provides ample motivation to rise to the challenge.
Asked at the pre-match press conference about how similar Champions League fixtures have become to top-flight football, the left-back said: “Ajax are a quality opposition.
“We have a lot of foreign players in the Premier League now, you become more accustomed to playing against these types of players. The difference between them both isn’t as big as it maybe once was.
“But, of course, it’s a different style of play. They play in a different league and everything that goes along with it, you don’t know their players inside out as much as you do the Premier League teams.
“But we’re playing one of the European giants tomorrow night – their history is phenomenal and their team just now is an excellent team. We know we’re in for a tough task tomorrow night but we know what’s at stake.
“We know if we win we’ll be through to the last 16 and that’s always the aim. We want to go far in this competition and by doing so, we need to get through the group stage first and foremost.
“We’ve got a chance to do that tomorrow night. It’s important we try to keep that in our minds and do everything we can to win this game and hopefully finish top of the group.”
Liverpool must once again tackle a tight turnaround, with Ajax’s visit coming three days on from the 1-1 league draw at Brighton & Hove Albion and within a week of their previous Champions League outing.
Asked about the fixture schedule this season and whether the players require more help, Robertson replied: “The schedule is hectic, there’s no secret of that, because of COVID and we had to kind of make up time and stuff.
“But the schedule is always going to be hectic, we knew that, and the schedule can’t change because we need to get all these games in, in all the different competitions. We get our heads around that but I just think maybe we could get a little bit more help from it.
“My manager has been probably the most vocal on it, but I know a lot of managers are maybe crying out for five substitutions or different things that can maybe help. I know up in Scotland they’ve got five substitutions just now and I know, by speaking to their boys, it makes a massive difference, because their schedule is also hectic.
“I just believe we should be trying to help the players. I don’t know the exact percentage or the exact number but a lot more muscle injuries have happened this season. It seems every game I watch on telly or every game I’m involved in, somebody is going off injured with something.
“I think the Premier League is the best league in the world but you want your best players on there and you want all squads to have their best team available and being able to compete for different things. We’re maybe not seeing that as much just now because players are unfortunately picking up muscle injuries.
“I just think maybe we could get a little bit more help. We’ll crack on with it and let that kind of get decided elsewhere. As it stands we’ll prepare for a game every three days and we’ll try to be as fit and as healthy as possible.”
Further on the subject of fitness, the Scotland captain was asked whether he would ever consciously try to manage his levels within a game due to the amount of fixtures and the injuries currently affecting the Liverpool squad.
“No, I always go 100 per cent,” he said. “You know, when it gets to game day, I always go 100 per cent of course. But certain games you maybe need to adapt.
“For instance, Atalanta away, we adapted a wee bit – me and Trent [Alexander-Arnold] played a wee bit deeper and a wee bit more inside, instead of us being the width, that maybe saved our legs a wee bit or didn’t mean we were sprinting as much. We also got taken off in that game because of how well we had played and the game was finished.
“You maybe do need to adapt as the season goes on but not too much – the reason you are playing is because of the way you play, so you can’t change everything and you can’t change too much.
“The schedule isn’t going to change, we know what games we’ve got coming up, we know what games are around the corner. It’s just about trying to prepare as best as possible for them, trying to keep as fit and healthy, trying to listen to the sports scientists, listen to your body and trying to do everything right leading up to games.
“So far, touch wood, I’ve been OK and I’ve been fit. Hopefully that continues because obviously the schedule is not going to get any easier but hopefully I can stay as fit and healthy as I am just now.”
It is the second opportunity to secure passage into the knockouts for Liverpool after they stumbled against Atalanta last time out.
But having started with three successive victories, including a 1-0 win at Ajax, a draw on Tuesday evening would be enough to progress from Group D with a game to spare.
The Dutch side are not to make it easy, however, as a victory at Anfield would push them ahead of the Reds and after a run of 31 goals in five league games since they last played Liverpool.
“Yeah, why should I not expect a close game? Ajax Amsterdam is a really good side and since our game is flying pretty much through the league,” Klopp told the media on Monday.
“Big results, clear top of the table, very talented, some players coming back – these kind of things. Yes, I expect a close game.”
And while a win against Atlanta would have enabled Klopp greater freedom in his team selection amid what is a congested fixture list, he simply cannot afford to think similarly this time around with points still very much on the table.
“I actually don’t see it in that perspective because that would mean I count somehow with the points already,” the boss added.
“We deal with the situation like how the situation is. Yes, three points would be great, absolutely great. But that is obviously on the table, so clear that it would help us massively.
“I didn’t think I would have to mention it today. But yes, of course, important game against a really good team and that’s the way we want to approach it.”
There was also an update on Thiago, who is not expected to feature until after the New Year, while there was better news on Trent Alexander-Arnold who could be back to face either Wolves or Midtjylland over the next week.
Liverpool Football Club will this week submit a planning application to Liverpool City Council for the proposed expansion of the Anfield Road stand.
The submission of the planning application was paused in spring this year due to the uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.
The plans would see the capacity of the Anfield Road stand increase by around 7,000 seats, taking the stadium’s overall capacity to more than 61,000.
As part of the application, the club is also seeking permanent permission to hold concerts and major events at the stadium.
The plans for the Anfield Road stand have been the subject of two stages of public consultation with local residents, business, fans and stakeholders.
The first stage, launched 12 months ago, included the permanent closure of a small section of Anfield Road, in line with the original planning permission granted in 2014. After listening to feedback on this option, the club made changes to the plans.
A second stage of consultation was held in February 2020, during which the club presented new and updated plans. This included plans to keep Anfield Road open, with the road realigned around the footprint of the proposed expanded stand. More than 700 responses were received to the consultation and the revised plans were well received, with the vast majority of respondents expressing support for the plans.
Andy Hughes, managing director of Liverpool FC, said: “We have been clear from the start that the expansion would be based on three things: financial viability and sustainability, the successful navigation of the complex planning landscape and with the co-operation of local residents and the community.
“We’d like to thank everyone who has offered a contribution to that consultation process. We feel that we now have a proposal that has been informed by our neighbours, will support the wider economy and provide an opportunity for more of our fans to come to Anfield to support our great team.
“The last nine months without fans in our stadium has driven home our commitment to making Anfield accessible to more fans than ever before and while a high level of uncertainty remains around COVID-19, we would like to be in a position to move ahead with the proposed redevelopment as soon as the time is right, which is why we’ve decided to move forward with submitting the planning application.”
The planning application will shortly be submitted to Liverpool City Council and is expected to be decided in spring 2021.
Liverpool FC will be opening a ballot today for eligible fans to apply for tickets for the match against Wolverhampton Wanderers on Sunday December 6.
Guidance and support from the city’s public health team outlined that the ballot can only be open to supporters who live within the Liverpool City Region. Fans must also be a season ticket holder or current official Member with 19 credits from the 2018-19 Premier League season who have completed Fan Update.
Eligible supporters for both general admission and hospitality tickets will be contacted via email and will be able to enter the ballot online from today. All supporters who enter the ballot will be notified of the results on Tuesday December 1.
Any supporters successful in this ballot who purchase a ticket will be excluded from entering future ballots until all other eligible supporters have been successful. If any eligible fans choose not to enter this ballot, then they will still be able to enter future ballots.
Fans can apply with four other members of their household or support bubble. There is no guarantee that all submissions will be successful. Junior supporters are the exception to this rule and adult/junior combined tickets will be available.
Before entering the ballot, fans must refer to a new supporter code of conduct and, if successful, complete a health declaration questionnaire 24 hours before kick-off to ensure they comply with the new guidelines that will be in place to make Anfield as safe as possible for everybody present.
Alongside the Main Stand, the club will also be opening up the Kop for the Wolves fixture in order to prepare and test matchday operations, ready for when additional fans could be permitted.
The club has also introduced NFC (Near Field Communication) technology for stadium entry for this game, which means that tickets will be digital and only available on a smart mobile phone. These tickets are non-transferrable and cannot be forwarded on to another mobile phone.
Fans can also find more information and guidance on the ballot process and return to Anfield on the dedicated website hub: liverpoolfc.com/return-of-supporters-to-anfield.
FTFull Time AETAfter Extra Time LIVEThis is a live match. ETExtra Time HTHalf Time
Liverpool vs Ajax. UEFA Champions League Group D.
8:00pm, Tuesday 1st December 2020.
Jürgen Klopp discussed a wide range of topics when he previewed Liverpool's Champions League affair with AFC Ajax.
The Reds welcome the Eredivisie outfit to Anfield on Tuesday evening and would secure passage to the knockout rounds of the competition if they avoid defeat.
The boss held a press conference on Monday afternoon via video link to look ahead to the Group D encounter with Erik ten Hag's team.
Read on for a summary of Klopp's pre-match media briefing...
On whether he expects another tough game with Ajax...
Yeah, why should I not expect a close game? Ajax Amsterdam is a really good side and since our game is flying pretty much through the league. Big results, clear top of the table, very talented, some players coming back – these kind of things. Yes, I expect a close game.
On how significant achieving qualification would be ahead of a busy December...
I actually don't see it in that perspective because that would mean I count somehow with the points already. We deal with the situation like how the situation is. Yes, three points would be great, absolutely great. But that is obviously on the table, so clear that it would help us massively. I didn't think I would have to mention it today. But yes, of course, important game against a really good team and that's the way we want to approach it.
On the importance of the backroom staff in ensuring the players are ready for games in quick succession...
They are always incredibly important in moments like this. It is an intense period, so of course sometimes the players spend more time in that department than with me on the pitch. For sure, because we don't train a lot, we can't. So, yes, very, very important and they know it. It's a busy time for all of us and for them, for sure, as well.
On whether he has to prioritise competitions this season...
I don't have enough players for doing that. It's not about the competition, it's about the game we play. So it means we play two days ago and the fittest players for that game were on the pitch and that will be the case again for this game because, how I said, there are not enough players to make these kind of decisions. I never made this kind of decision – Premier League and Champions League or whatever – because all competitions are for us very, very, very important.
On 2,000 supporters scheduled to be in attendance for Liverpool's game with Wolverhampton Wanderers on December 6...
As a player, I had never more than 2,000 supporters probably. But since I worked as a coach, there was more people in the stadium and I don't know exactly who will be in and who will be the 2,000. But, yes, I'm happy for the 2,000 lucky ones who get the chance to see live football again after all that time. But I have no experience with 2,000 people at Anfield, to be honest, so we will see. How we adapted to no supporters in the stadium, we will try to use 2,000 in the stadium and try not to suffer with 2,000 or 4,000 supporters in an away stadium. So that's how it is. But it's really not about us or the advantage we have with that or the disadvantage somewhere else, it's just a nice sign that these things are possible and I hope it’s just the first step. That is my biggest hope.
On how well Rhys Williams and Neco Williams have done coming into the team...
Look, if somebody is a Liverpool youth or Academy player in general, he has already, for sure, a lot of talent – otherwise you can't make the cut. When you then go through all these difficult moments in your youth academy career then you are already used to some difficult situations and some pressure. But when you come up and you make the final step and you have to play in a competitive game for the first team, that's a different animal. I think the boys adapted really well. They did a lot of really good stuff, helped us enormously, are very important – not only in the moment, but especially in the moment. The only problem they have from time to time is that people compare them with the guy who played the position before them. They are, in our case, all world-class players and that makes it maybe kind of difficult for people to see clear how talented these boys are. But from my point of view, they did really, really well.
Watch Liverpool's pre-match press conference on demand now.
Jürgen Klopp and Andy Robertson discussed the Reds' Champions League game against AFC Ajax with the media via video call from Anfield on Monday.
See everything they had to say via our official YouTube channel below.
App users should tap here to watch via YouTube.
Jürgen Klopp reported Virgil van Dijk is ‘doing really well’ as he continues to make the initial steps in his rehabilitation from a knee operation.
The centre-back underwent the successful procedure on damaged ligaments at the end of October. No specific timescale is being placed upon his return by the club.
Asked during his pre-AFC Ajax press conference whether he was in contact with Van Dijk, Klopp replied: “Yes, of course we are in contact. Considering the circumstances, he's doing really well.
“His knee doesn’t look good, to be honest; it doesn’t look like a knee should look - but it looks good for a knee with that surgery and the time he had since the surgery.
“So, yes, of course we are in contact and he's doing well, that's true.”
Thiago Alcantara remains a few weeks away from a return to action following the knee injury he sustained in the Merseyside derby in October, says Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp.
Thiago has not played since he was caught by a red-card challenge from Everton forward Richarlison in the 2-2 draw at Goodison Park - a game which also saw Virgil van Dijk sustain anterior cruciate ligament damage.
Liverpool initially confirmed the close-season signing from Bayern Munich had avoided a serious injury but the severity of the collision continues to sideline the Spain international ahead of the busy December schedule.
"On that day when he got injured in that bad challenge in the Everton game, there was another bad injury and after the scan there was good news and really bad news," Klopp said.
"[With Thiago] nothing was broken or ruptured but it was still a massive impact on the knee.
"The impact on the leg was that big that it's still not okay. It is not massive, and he trains from time to time, not at the moment because we have to realise we have to go through further steps.
"I can't say exactly when he will be fine, but it will take a few weeks."3:12 FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Brighton's draw against Liverpool in the Premier League
Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson will, however, be available for the home Champions League tie against Ajax on Tuesday as the Reds target a win which will qualify them for the knockout stages.
Klopp also confirmed Trent Alexander-Arnold, Naby Keita and Xherdan Shaqiri remain unavailable for the visit of the Dutch champions, along with James Milner, who suffered a hamstring injury against Brighton on Saturday.
Klopp also gave an update on the early stages of Van Dijk's rehabilitation, with it unclear how long the Netherlands defender will be out for after his collision with Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford.Image: Virgil van Dijk required surgery on a knee injury earlier this season
Club sources were reluctant to rule out a return to action this season in the immediate aftermath of the player's injury prognosis.
"Considering the circumstances, he is doing really well but the knee doesn't look good," Klopp said.
"It doesn't look how a knee should but looks good for a knee considering the surgery he had and the time since he had the surgery."Klopp: I don't have the players to prioritise matches Image: Klopp lost James Milner to injury at the weekend
The meeting with Ajax is the first of eight matches Liverpool will play in December and Klopp insists he does not have the personnel to look ahead amid the condensed fixture schedule.
"I don't have enough players for prioritising," Klopp said.
"It is not about the competition; it is about the game we play. We played two days ago and the fittest players for that game were on the pitch and that will be the case again for this game because we don't have enough players to make these kinds of decisions.
"I never made this kind of decision [regarding] the Premier League and the Champions League because all competitions are very important for us."