Pep Lijnders has indicated Liverpool won’t use this season’s Carabao Cup to give emerging talent an opportunity as the Reds prepare to go strong in the competition.
Six youngsters were handed a debut in the opening rounds last season before a further eight made their bow when an under-23 side represented the club in their controversial quarter-final at Aston Villa.
Liverpool begin on the road to Wembley when they travel to early League One front-runners Lincoln City on Thursday evening in the Carabao Cup third round.
“How we have evolved our squad over the last few years gives us more opportunity to attack this competition,” he said.
“The last few years we’ve spoken about giving (young) talent an opportunity. This phase has gone.
“These players who were talents at that moment are players who now represent a position in our squad and have a very important role to play. We feel we are ready.
“The team tomorrow will be a strong team. I feel some of you guys will be surprised, to be honest.”
Neco Williams, Harvey Elliott and Sepp van den Berg were among those given a first Liverpool outing in the competition’s third round at MK Dons last season, while Curtis Jones scored his first senior goal in the following round against Arsenal.
Listen to the Pep Lijinders press conference in full HERE
All four are in contention to feature at the LNER Stadium, with Adrian, Divock Origi, Takumi Minamino, James Milner, Xherdan Shaqiri and new signings Kostas Tsmikas and Diogo Jota also likely to be considered, although Thiago Alcantara may be rested after featuring for the second half against Chelsea on Sunday.
“It’s about finding a team with the responsibility to give everything, and finding a good balance with this,” said Lijnders.
Why should I sign up?
Premier League champions Liverpool are looking to dominate again next season and we’ll have all the latest news on any moves they make in the transfer market this summer.
You’ll get breaking transfer news, analysis, rumours, live coverage and much more.
Liverpool correspondent Paul Gorst will also be sending an extra weekly newsletter with all the latest from behind-the-scenes at Melwood.
How do I sign up?
It’s free, easy and takes no time at all.
- First just click on this link to our newsletter sign-up centre.
- Once you’re there, put your email address where it says at the top, then click on the Liverpool FC newsletter. There are other ones too if you want them as well.
- When you’ve made your choice, press the Update Preference button at the bottom.
That’s it! Your emails will come through to your inbox from that moment on. It’s that simple.
“In these competitions, it’s a great moment where you can combine experience with talent that makes each other stronger.
“The fire of the young players, the risk and braveness, we need that as we are playing against a side who defends deep, is ready to counter-attack, has real speed on the wings and has technical players on the inside. They (Lincoln) have scored five goals this season already from counter-attacks.”
Lijnders added: “The good thing is that over the last few years this group has created a mentality to see the next game as a final.
“The team who will represent us will be a good team, a strong team. They will show hunger and desire to put our game in place.
“We want to attack each compeition. In football you can’t think too far ahead, especially this season it will be one game after another, especially through to January. Luckily we had a good pre-season so are prepared for that.
“Lincoln have had a great journey in the last four years with their promotions. They are at the top of the league, and have a manager (former Leicester City assistant boss Michael Appleton) with experience in the Premier League.”
*How far will Liverpool go in the Carabao Cup this season? Have your say in the comments section.