JÜRGEN Klopp is happy to have difficult choices to make in the coming weeks as he views that as a key indicator of the Liverpool squad’s strength.
The Reds boss made seven changes for what turned out to be a comfortable 3-0 League Cup win at Derby, even leaving Daniel Sturridge out of the squad completely.
Emre Can returned from injury, Marko Grujic and goalkeeper Loris Karius made their first starts, Danny Ings tasted his first competitive first-team action of the season and there was also a debut for promising youngster Ovie Ejara.
Klopp does have some interesting selection dilemmas ahead, starting in goal, where Karius is now in a position to challenge Simon Mignolet for the number one spot, although he did not get much chance to showcase his talents in the one-sided encounter at the iPro Stadium.
He did, however, seem much more confident between the sticks — represented by his starting position — and good with the ball at his feet.
The back four is pretty much settled, but Can’s comeback increases the competition in midfield, with Adam Lallana and Georginio Wijnaldum also left out of the squad to face Derby, while Sadio Mane is certain to get a recall to the forward line for Saturday’s visit of Hull, which means there is a scrap for a start between Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho.
Klopp said: “The more players I have, the more difficult choices there are for me but the better it is for Liverpool. Can’s fitness is not a problem. He has a strong mentality and fight but it is about rhythm — we can’t go into a shop and buy rhythm.
“I don’t rush it and Emre is cool about it.”
Klopp also reiterated that Ings still has a part to play, somewhere down the line, as he eases his way back into competitive football after a knee ligament injury ended last season early for him.
“It was a difficult time [for him], I know this but, like all the others, he’s on a really good way and everybody can see this,” the boss added.
“We will see what will happen, but he’s still an important player for us and it’s all good.”
Victory over Derby, and passage into the last 16, means Liverpool have now won five of their seven matches this term, with the 2-0 defeat at Burnley the only black mark against their record.
They have scored 19 goals so far (compared to five over the first seven matches last season), from 10 different players, and are beginning to show they mean business with three successive wins and a five-game unbeaten run.
Klopp said: “The pleasing thing is that I don’t feel anything. It’s not that we are surprised and think, ‘Okay, let’s take a week’s break and celebrate it’. We had the games, we played them, we are professionals.”