Jürgen Klopp

Q&AJürgen Klopp press conference: Team selection, Elliott form and Gordon's return

By James Carroll and Glenn Price in Brussels


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Liverpool are set to field a line-up with a 'good mix' of youth and experience as they aim to sign off from the Europa League group stage with victory over Union SG in Belgium, Jürgen Klopp has explained.

The Reds are already assured of a top-spot finish in Group E and, therefore, a place in the last 16 of the tournament.

Nevertheless, while there are likely to be several changes to the line-up, Klopp insists his side will still take to the field at Lotto Park with the intention of picking up three more points.

The manager addressed the media in Brussels on Wednesday night. Read on to see what he had to say...

On how Liverpool will approach the game having already confirmed themselves as group winners...

Look, we were a couple of times in this situation that we had to play the last game of the group stages [already qualified] but unfortunately not often enough as usually we have to go for everything and win it, in the past, in the Champions League, super-important games to get through the group stages. We are through and we were that in the past as well. It is really important you find a group who can really fight in a game, who can really go for it, because that is the job to do. We are physically in the situation to do that and from a determination point of view as well; I think we found that and I hope we can choose that line-up because you never know what happens overnight. The line-up in my mind, the line-up we used today in training, would mean we have a good mix between a bit more experience and youth. We want to go for it.

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Klopp and Harvey Elliott's pre-Union SG press conference

On whether Harvey Elliott's match-winning substitute appearance has given him a selection headache...

No, no headache. For me, Harvey is what we really forget from time to time, he is still super-young and has had an incredible amount of games already – and top games. We can go back, before the bad injury Harvey in that period was the best player we had, he had the best performances definitely. Then he got badly injured, came back and took a while before he got up to speed again. What he showed in the last game and what he showed in a lot of moments when we bring him [in], what he showed for the U21s with England, that's all what Harvey Elliott can be.

With his skillset, he will be in the future super-influential in a team because he can connect things, he has the ability to do that. He has the overview, the technique, the dynamic. He has it. Did he bring it always on the pitch when he played? No, but that's normal. I wouldn't blame anybody for that, least of all him. I am really happy he could show it because a player with his ability needs to have finishes as well. He can shoot and he can play the last pass and all these kinds of things. It was a really good sign again of how good this boy can be and, of course, we want to use that.

On Union SG head coach Alexander Blessin...

Good, we met already. I think we didn't play a lot against each other but maybe once when he was at Stuttgart Kickers maybe, I am not 100 per cent sure. So let me say it like this, we both made not the biggest impression on the pitch. So we were pretty average players, I was a more average player than he was probably but obviously it all goes in the right direction with his coaching career. I'm really happy for him. We come from a very similar region, if not the same. We have a similar mindset probably – that's historically like this in that area, serious workers get raised in that area. I'm really happy for him that it's going that well, that it looks obviously really good in the table. Really cool. If he has a beer then we will drink it together but our plane goes after the game, so I will not miss the plane for the beer, that's clear!

On Union SG...

Good. Yes, unfortunately. Of course, a good team. Lost good players and got a good team together again. So like really interesting strikers who are doing really impressive stuff now in other leagues – both in the Bundesliga actually. Doing again that well is really special. I think the way the club is set up is just really good. Belgian football when you think about it, who is usually champion, we all know who that is, I don't know for how many years it was Brugge in a row. I think Simon Mignolet came here and then it was five, six years in a row, something like that? Four, OK. And now Royal stepped in and are doing obviously incredibly well. So that's how football is, who is doing the better job should be top of the table and that's in the moment obviously Royal.

On Kaide Gordon...

So we were really unlucky with some of our big, big prospects. We had that problem that they were a little bit too good already for the physical status, let me say it like that. So they were that good that we thought they could help us already and everybody went in the right direction and then the body said no, stop. And that happened to Kaide unfortunately two or three times, it was a really long time out. And that's now really cool as well – from the first day back in training, we all realised immediately, 'Ah, that's what we missed, that's what we had already.'

So nothing happened really, still a fantastic player, still incredibly young and he is now again around the first team. We try to give him as much game time as possible with the U21s. You know that, I'm really a believer in that we need a strong U21s, they don't need to be always at the same time on loan everywhere. There are different ways to develop talents. And especially after long injuries, you should not think immediately, 'Now he's fit again and send him out.' We have a really good group there together of young boys and some of them we will see tomorrow, that's clear.



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This article has been automatically translated and, while all reasonable efforts have been made to ensure accuracy, some errors in translation are possible. Please refer to the original English-language version of the article for the official version.