Liverpool’s season continues apace with the a trip east to Sincil Bank on Thursday to face League One pace-setters Lincoln City in the EFL Cup.
With another testing Premier League tie against Arsenal to come (coupled with Jurgen Klopp’s general apathy about the domestic cups), Thursday’s encounter provides an opportunity for several lesser-spotted Liverpool faces to shine.
Here’s how the Reds could line up against Lincoln.
Caoimhin Kelleher (GK) – The 21-year-old Republic of Ireland youth international was made the EFL Cup keeper last season and should continue in that role for 2020/21 – at least against lower-league opposition like Lincoln.
Neco Williams (RB) – Young, talented and exciting, it’s a shame Williams’ best position is one already occupied by the best player in the world in his role. The cup games will give the 19-year-old Welsh starlet a chance to show his stuff, however.
Kostas Tsimikas (LB) – The £11.75m Greece international is in line for his debut on Thursday and is another who will be using the cups to prove his worth.
Virgil van Dijk (CB) – A likely starter due to injuries to the rest of Liverpool’s defenders, VVD could be used to shore up an inexperienced backline in what will be a lined single-legged encounter (with at least 20% more banana skins).
Sepp van den Berg (CB) – The much talked about Billy Koumetio is also a possibility to start, but the (slightly) older van den Berg is more likely to build on his four cup appearances from 2019/20.
Thiago Alcantara (CM) – The newbie broke a record for the most passes in 45 minutes during his debut in the win over Chelsea. With Henderson among those doubtful, he could well start in the deeper role spraying out passes against Lincoln.
Curtis Jones (CM) – The 19-year-old played as many cup games as league games last season, scoring twice – including that strike against Everton.
James Milner (CM) – The evergreen Milner was famously cheering from the stands for Liverpool’s FA Cup tie against Shrewsbury last winter, when most other first-teamers had been given the week off. The 34-year-old could get a start here, though youngsters like Herbie Kane and Leighton Clarkson may also be in contention.
Harvey Elliott (FW) – Still only 17 and the youngest player to start a match at Anfield, Elliott is likely to play a big role in the Reds’ cup adventures this season. He is also on the hunt for his first Liverpool goal.
Divock Origi (FW) – Injuries to Xherdan Shaqiri and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain may see Origi used out wide on Thursday. His biggest contribution in 2019/20 was perhaps his double in the EFL Cup classic against Arsenal.
Takumi Minamino (FW) – The Japan international could be used through the middle, especially with Rhian Brewster’s future still up in the air. Shiny new signing Diogo Jota may be eased in off the bench, while 18-year-old Layton Stewart may have earned the right to inclusion in the squad after a recent hat-trick for the academy side.