Shrewsbury: Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp says no first-team players will be involved in their FA Cup fourth-round replay with third-tier Shrewsbury Town next month because it clashes with the inaugural Premier League break.
Klopp’s much-changed side were forced to a replay by third-tier Shrewsbury on Sunday as they let slip a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 in a pulsating tie at New Meadow.
He has never taken Liverpool into the fifth round of the FA Cup since arriving in October 2015, but now appears ready to sacrifice the chance of ending that poor record.
Shrewsbury’s players and fans celebrated wildly at the prospect of a trip to Anfield, but Klopp was not amused.
The new Premier League winter break means all clubs will have a blank weekend. Liverpool, who lead the table by a massive 16 points, would have had no league game between facing Southampton on Feb. 1 and Norwich City on Feb. 15.
Now they will host Shrewsbury in the week beginning Feb. 3.
“In April 2019, we got a letter from the Premier League where they asked us to respect the winter break, not to organise friendlies and not to organise competitive games in respect of it,” Klopp told reporters.
“I have said to the boys already, two weeks ago, that we will have a winter break, so it means we will not be there — it will be the kids who play that game because they cannot deal with us like nobody cares about it.
“I know it is not very popular, but that’s the way I see it. The Premier League asked us to respect the winter break and that’s what we’ll do. If then the FA do not respect it then we cannot change. But we will not be there.” Klopp also confirmed that Liverpool’s under 23s coach Neil Critchley would manage the team in that game.
Critchley took charge of the League Cup quarter-final tie against Aston Villa this season when Liverpool’s first team squad were in Qatar for Fifa’s World Club Cup. Villa won 5-0.
Klopp, who believes Cup replays should be scrapped, will almost certainly be as good as his word.
“It’s about players’ welfare and they need a rest — mental rest, physical rest,” he said.
“That’s what the winter break is about and then another competition tells us it’s not that important. We had to make these decisions before because the boys have family and the international players like Jordan Henderson, Virgil van Dijk, Gini Wijnaldum, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Mo Salah, Sadio Mane, all these guys they never have time off.”