Liverpool will not have 11 fit players without changes, warns Klopp

LONDON (AFP) – Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said the Premier League’s top six could be left without 11 fit players unless changes are made to protect the welfare of stretched squads.

Already depleted by an injury crisis, the Reds will play three games in six-and-a-half days this week.

Klopp’s men saw off Leicester City 3-0 in Monday’s late Premier League kick-off and will welcome Atalanta to Anfield in the Champions League tonight before travelling to Brighton for Saturday’s lunch-time kick-off.

“If we keep playing Wednesday night and Saturday 12.30, I am not sure we finish the season with 11 players, all the top six or seven,” said Klopp in an impassioned interview with Sky Sports, the largest domestic rights holder of Premier League games.

Under the terms of a GBP4.5 billion deal for three seasons, Sky have the first pick from each round of games with BT Sport choosing their headline match second. But Klopp said broadcasters should adapt to the circumstances of a season like no other, with matches crammed into the calendar to make up for the lost time of a three-month postponement to last season due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Everybody tells me it is difficult, but it is difficult for the players. That’s what is difficult. The rest is just a decision on a desk in an office,” added Klopp.

“If someone tells me again about contracts I go really crazy because the contracts were not made for a COVID season.

“We all have to adapt. You stand here with a facemask, would you have thought a year ago you would go somewhere with a facemask and we cannot be close? That’s the situation. Everything changed, but the contract with the broadcasters is still ‘we said this so we keep this’.”

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said his side had been “set up to fail” when they had to travel back from facing Istanbul Basaksehir in the Champions League on a Wednesday night before a lunchtime kick-off away at Everton.