Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp bemoaned the fact that his overworked team will be required to play yet another crucial game in January following the 2-2 FA Cup third round draw at Exeter City.
Klopp fielded an unrecognisable, young line-up against the League Two club, blaming a lengthy injury list and the need to rest senior players for what was his team’s fifth game in 14 days.
After Friday’s draw, Liverpool now face an Anfield replay with Exeter before a second leg of their League Cup semi-final with Stoke, as well as a scheduled Premier League meeting against Arsenal on Wednesday.
Next month sees Klopp resurrect his interest in a fourth competition this season when Liverpool face German club Augsburg in the knockout stages of the Europa League.
“We have to play again, I can’t believe that is another game but we will be there,” Klopp said.
“It can’t be the future. I can’t judge the young players after this one game, it doesn’t work like that. However, they certainly helped us in our situation today but it’s obvious what we have to learn in the future. We have to be more robust.
“I think the Exeter players were more robust than us and we have to work on that. But we certainly deserved a draw. And that is what we have got.
“Now we have got another game to play. But I am not complaining. We have more games than most teams because we are still in other competitions.”
Klopp made light of a dreadful mistake by his backup goalkeeper Adam Bogdan, leading to Exeter’s second goal, and said that the fact it was shown around the world on live television was sufficient analysis of the incident.
But Bogdan’s display will add to speculation that Liverpool will be in the market for a new goalkeeper in the current transfer window.
“I thought both goals were really unlucky for us,” he said. “The first goal was from their first attack and we weren’t awake.
“The second goal ... OK! The BBC showed it live, the full package, spectacular!”
Klopp changed all 11 players from Liverpool’s last outing, the League Cup first leg victory at Stoke, handing out three debuts among his starting eleven and naming a side in which just two players — Jose Enrique and Christian Benteke — could boast more than four appearances for the club.
Not surprisingly, his young side fell behind to a goal by Tom Nichols and, after Jerome Sinclair quickly equalised, the horrendous mistake by Bogdan gifted a second goal to Lee Holmes, direct from a corner.
Liverpool earned the replay with a 74th minute equaliser from Australian defender Brad Smith, a replay which will be worth an estimated £700,000 to the League Two club.
“It was a great cup tie and I felt we gave it a real go and I am really looking forward to the replay,” Exeter manager Paul Tisdale said.
“I am a tad disappointed because I felt we had a chance to win. Yes, we are going to get a payday and that is important. There will be a lot of discussion where that money goes, but it will go towards helping to maintain what we have.
“Cash flow is always a problem so this is a great boost for the football club. We are very frugal and we are careful with every penny we spend. I just cannot over emphasise how important this could be for us.”
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