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Klopp to watch Liverpool's Shrewsbury FA Cup replay on laptop

23:46 GMT 03/02/2020
Jurgen Klopp Liverpool 2019-20
The German is officially on his winter break, but will still be able keep up with the action at Anfield

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp will watch his side’s FA Cup fourth-round replay against Shrewsbury on a laptop while under-23 coach Neil Critchley takes charge of a youthful Reds side at Anfield on Tuesday.

Klopp and the entire first-team squad will miss the game as they are on their winter break, introduced in the Premier League for the first time this season.

The German revealed neither he or the senior players would take part in the replay in the immediate aftermath of last month's 2-2 draw at New Meadow.

The club knew before the season began that fourth-round replays were scheduled to fall during the pre-arranged break, but Klopp refused to change his stance as he seeks to highlight the issue of fixture congestion in English football.

The Merseysiders faced a similar predicament in December when Klopp and the senior side flew to Qatar for the Club World Cup, leaving Critchley to take charge of a Carabao Cup quarter-final clash with Aston Villa with a side consisting entirely of academy players.

Critchley says Klopp has the option to contact him should he want to, having done so at half-time of the clash at Villa Park, which Villa ended up winning 5-0.

“Jurgen sent through a message at half-time (against Villa), which I have to say was brilliant at that moment,” Critchley said.

“Even though we were going off the pitch thinking: ‘We’ve played all right there but we’re getting beat 4-0,’ it creates that element of doubt in your mind about whether you are doing the right thing and if you need to do something different.

“So when you get a message from the manager saying: ‘Don’t change anything, carry on doing what you’re doing, you’ve been brilliant,’ it clears all that doubt in your mind and you can give that message to the players.

“The message killed every doubt and settled them right down. It helped everyone at that moment. I didn’t have my phone on me but the message came through one of the staff. That option is available tomorrow but that’s up to the manager.”

Klopp’s decision to miss the game has been criticised in some quarters, with some accusing him for disrespecting the FA Cup.

Critchley, though, disagrees and feels the former Borussia Dortmund boss is helping the academy players’ development by giving them valuable experience.

“Another great quality of the manager is he trusts people to do their job. The best support he gives the players is he gives them an opportunity,” he added.

“I don’t know what more support you could wish for as a young player. I know there has been a lot spoken going into the game, but there has been total clarity around the decision and we all support the decision. We all follow him because he has earned that.”

Critchley admits that the Shrewsbury players are likely to have a physical advantage over his side, many of whom are still in their teens.

However, he also feels that coming up against seasoned professionals can only benefit the youngsters as they look to build their professional careers.

“When you are playing against men who are fully matured and developed physically they have an advantage,” Critchley said.

“But maybe we can play our way and take that advantage away a little bit. If our boys want to have a career in football then they need to cope with that side of the game and with nights like this.”