The Carabao Cup represents an opportunity for more silverware for Liverpool this season, though realistically it will be a low priority for Jurgen Klopp’s side. Having been scheduled to participate in eight competitions (including the EFL Trophy and Club World Cup), it would seem that this competition is at most the sixth highest priority for Liverpool. It does, however, gives fringe players such as Rhian Brewster a chance to impress.
Due to the competition lacking in importance to Klopp’s club, it provides the opportunity for him to make wholesale changes. That is not to say that progression to the next round is not the goal. Those selected to start against MK Dons will want to make an impression on the boss with a view to starting bigger games in the Premier League and in the Champions League. The U21’s are in action against Fleetwood Town on the same day, however, meaning that players such as summer signing Harvey Elliot may have to wait for their senior debut. The fixture clash may also mean that Klopp has to get creative in his line up.
Rhian Brewster Could Make Liverpool Debut Against MK Dons
None of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino or Sadio Mane should be involved against the Dons, with the latter being subbed with an injury against Chelsea. Xherdan Shaqiri has also been ruled out with a calf injury. This will provide an opportunity for the fringe attackers in Klopp’s squad with a chance to impress. Rhian Brewster will make his full debut for the club following an impressive pre-season, though options are slim up front. Curtis Jones and Harvey Elliot will have had their chances of a start boosted following the news of Shaqiri’s injury, though they may be needed for the EFL Trophy fixture. Adam Lallana, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Naby Keita represent options up front if they aren’t selected in midfield while Mohamed Salah could be involved due to a lack of depth.
All Change at the Back
When he signed in the summer, goalkeeper Adrian would have been forgiven for expecting to make his debut in the third round of the Carabao Cup. However, due to Alisson Becker’s injury, he has been an ever-present in the Premier League and Champions League. This means that he will be given the night off. Having been preferred on the bench in recent games ahead of Andrew Lonergan, Caohmin Kelleher will expect to make his debut against the Dons.
Joe Gomez and Dejan Lovren should come in for Virgil van Dijk and Joel Matip, though there are issues at full-back. Andrew Robertson is the only senior left-back in the squad, but his importance to the team means he cannot be risked in this fixture. Yasser Larouci enjoyed a solid pre-season in the position, though if he is required for U21s duty then James Milner can deputise. There are similar issues at right-back, with Nathaniel Clyne‘s injury leaving Trent Alexander-Arnold as the only first-team player in that position. Ki-Jana Hoever could fill in though, as with Larouci, there is uncertainty as to which fixture he will be required in. Summer signing Sepp van den Berg is also an option.
Wholesale Changes in Midfield
Having played against all three of Napoli, Chelsea and Newcastle United, Fabinho will be given the night off. Klopp experimented with Adam Lallana in the holding role during pre-season, so it is likely that he will start there. Naby Keita should also start if he has recovered from his injury, with Klopp stating last week that Wednesday was the target. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will also be hoping for another start after a promising showing against Newcastle. James Milner is also an option if he isn’t required at left-back, while Jordan Henderson and Georginio Wijnaldum will be saved for more important fixtures.
Most likely XI: Caohmin Kelleher, Yasser Larouci, Joe Gomez, Dejan Lovren, Ki-Jana Hoever, Adam Lallana, Naby Keita, James Milner, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Rhian Brewster, Harvey Elliot