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Klopp stands firm on decision to field weakened team for FA Cup replay

The decision has attracted criticism, with Accrington Stanley owner Andy Holt calling for Liverpool to be fined.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp. Picture: @LFC/Twitter.

BENGALURU - Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp has defended his decision to use his under-23 squad against Shrewsbury Town in their FA Cup fourth-round replay, and said the Football Association did not consult “sports-responsible people” over dates for the game.

Liverpool drew 2-2 with the third-tier club on Sunday after which Klopp confirmed that no first-team player would feature in the replay because it clashed with the inaugural Premier League mid-season break.

The decision has attracted criticism, with Accrington Stanley owner Andy Holt calling for Liverpool to be fined.

In a news conference ahead of Liverpool’s league trip to West Ham United on Wednesday, Klopp, who will also miss the replay, defended his position in a response lasting over seven minutes.

“I have to make decisions that aren’t popular based on the situation we are in,” he said. “Because we plan long-term I cannot plan when there is a real decisive period coming up.

“If people think I am lazy because I am not there, I cannot change that and I’m not interested. I just feel responsible for my players. If we find a way to play it then nothing will change and we have to change it.”

Klopp confirmed under-23s boss Neil Critchley will take charge of the replay at Anfield.

Critchley took charge of a young Liverpool side in their League Cup defeat by Aston Villa when the first-team were in Qatar for the Club World Cup.

“Could I be here for the game? Of course, I could,” Klopp said.

“But that again is a complete misunderstanding of management and coaching. They need their coach and it is Critch.”

The FA said every club agreed to this season’s Cup fixture schedule and knew fourth-round replays might be played during their winter breaks.

“I don’t know who was there from which club, but I know the FA said all the clubs agreed,” Klopp said.

“No sports-responsible people were there. Not a club, not a manager, not a sporting director and that’s what we need.”

Klopp confirmed Sadio Mane will miss the next three matches after the forward sustained a muscle issue in Liverpool’s 2-1 win over Wolverhampton Wanderers last week.

“Sadio will not be involved for West Ham and probably not Southampton. After that he will be back on track,” Klopp added.

“He has a small muscle tear which is serious enough. We were lucky with it though it wasn’t too serious.”

Runaway league leaders Liverpool could stretch their advantage over second-placed Manchester City to 19 points with a win at the London Stadium on Wednesday.

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