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Liverpool Under-23 coach to take charge of Carabao Cup quarter-final

22:21 GMT+3 25/11/2019
Jurgen Klopp
The Premier League leaders will split their squad in order to fulfil two fixtures in as many days next month

Liverpool Under-23 coach Neil Critchley is set to take charge of a youthful Reds team against Aston Villa in the Carabao Cup quarter-final next month, while Jurgen Klopp is in Qatar with the senior players for the Club World Cup.

The Merseysiders are facing the prospect of playing two games on different two continents in the space of 24 hours, with their clash at Villa taking place on Tuesday, December 18 and their Club World Cup semi-final in the Middle East scheduled for the following day.

Goal understands Klopp will head out with the senior side on Sunday, December 15 to prepare for the FIFA tournament, which runs to the following weekend, leaving Critchley and the club’s youth players to fulfil their midweek fixture in the Midlands.

Academy midfielder Curtis Jones, aged just 18, is likely to captain the Reds, with fellow teenagers Rhian Brewster, Harvey Elliott,  Ki-Jana Hoever, Neco Williams and Sepp van den Berg all set to play.

Those youngsters also featured in Liverpool’s victories over Arsenal and MK Dons in the earlier rounds, along with a sprinkling of senior players such as James Milner and Divock Origi.

All senior stars are likely to be part of the Club World Cup squad, meaning the Carabao Cup team is set to consist entirely of academy players.

The European champions agreed to fulfil the Aston Villa fixture on its original date after extensive talks with the EFL.

Klopp had initially threatened to pull out of the Carabao Cup should the EFL fail to provide sufficient alternative dates for the fixture, as he said he needed his entire squad out in Qatar.

However, Liverpool’s already-packed schedule meant finding an alternative date proved impossible, with the Reds playing nine games across three different competitions in December alone.

A January date also proved problematic, as it would interfere with the Carabao Cup semi-finals, which are played over two legs.

The new Premier League winter break, set for the start of February, has reduced the number of available dates further still.

In the end, Liverpool agreed to fulfil both fixtures by fielding two different squads, with the blessing of the EFL.