Liverpool: Klopp Content To Avoid Cup Shock
Reds force a replay against Exeter City after twice trailing their League Two hosts...
Liverpool will be in the hat for the FA Cup fourth round draw after avoiding a shock defeat at the lesser-known St James' Park on Friday night.
The depleted Merseysiders, without 13 first-team squad members through injury and fitness issues, twice came from behind to earn a 2-2 draw and deny Exeter City a famous victory.
With important Premier League fixtures against Arsenal and Manchester United on the horizon, Kop boss Jürgen Klopp also decided to rest the few familiar faces who were available to him.
Indeed, of the 14 players used, only Christian Benteke, who captained the side, can be considered a regular, with five of the other participants - Tiago Ilori, Ryan Kent, Kevin Stewart, Sheyi Ojo and Joe Maguire - making their senior debuts.
Goals from Jerome Sinclair and Brad Smith ultimately saved the visitors' blushes after the hosts had twice taken the lead in a frantic first half.
Analysing proceedings, and the selection predicament he faced, at his post-match press conference, a philosophical Klopp declared himself satisfied with the outcome.
"We tried to create a line-up under time pressure," remarked the Liverpool manager. "Some loan players came back yesterday and we trained together yesterday and this morning for around 40 minutes.
"We tried to create a common plan and idea. It was not too good, it was not too bad, but it showed that in football it's very important you work together and train together and we couldn't do that with this team.
"You saw in a lot of moments that Exeter did really well and we didn't defend it too well, we lost a lot of one-on-one situations. The pitch was difficult for both teams and it was not too easy for the young boys.
"In an atmosphere like this, there were legs getting tired and so on. It was good to strike back and we had a few more moments, but not enough in the end.
"We have to respect our situation and that's what we did. We were here to go through to the next round. It didn't work out 100 per cent - 50 per cent - so now we have another game at Anfield."
The replay will take place later this month meaning the Reds will now contest at least five more matches before the conclusion of January.
Despite the hectic schedule, it is the injury situation that continues to concern Klopp the most.
"It's only a situation that we have," continued the German. "It's no problem. We had some more games than other teams because we are still in the Capital One Cup, we played Europa League, that's all.
"The main problems we have is because our centre-halves are injured in this moment. We had five centre-halves at the beginning of the season and at this moment no centre-halves, that's the situation, but next week it could be different.
"Then we have to see what we can do, we work on it, and go on."
Liverpool are next in action on Wednesday night when title chasing Arsenal visit Anfield in the league.
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