Jürgen Klopp has explained why he has elected to restore Dejan Lovren to Liverpool’s starting line-up against FC Porto tonight – and also name Joe Gomez among the substitutes.
Joel Matip had started each of the Reds’ last 13 matches in all competitions, but is replaced by Lovren for this evening’s Champions League quarter-final, first-leg tie.
Meanwhile, Gomez was withdrawn from a behind-closed-doors friendly at Melwood today – in which Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Rhian Brewster both figured – to take his place in the matchday squad for the first time since sustaining a leg fracture at Burnley on December 5.
Klopp said: “Dejan has been training for about three or four weeks already. Joel played so many games, so it’s just to use fresh legs and the energy of Dejan. That’s pretty much all we changed.
“Joe actually should have played a couple of minutes today in an internal friendly game behind closed doors, but Alberto was not ready for the bench and we don’t have a lot of left-back options left, so that’s why Joe is in.”
Elsewhere, Jordan Henderson and James Milner complete Liverpool’s three changes to the team deployed at Southampton on Friday night, with Georginio Wijnaldum dropping to the bench.
Klopp continued: “Hendo starts [in midfield] and it’s all good with Gini, but of course [with] the intensity of the last couple of games and [he has had] a little bit of a stiff back in the last few days, so that’s the situation.
“As long as we have these good options then everything is OK.”