Jürgen Klopp hints at Joe Gomez inclusion for Liverpool's FA Cup tie with Plymouth Argyle

Jürgen Klopp hints at Joe Gomez inclusion for Liverpool's FA Cup tie with Plymouth Argyle

Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp has said Joe Gomez could play for the club's first-team for the first in over 16 months when the Reds host Plymouth Argyle in the FA Cup third round this Sunday, while Loris Karius has a "big chance" of starting in goal over Simon Mignolet.

Charlie Malam

Joe Gomez could feature for Liverpool for the first time since October 2015 on Sunday, while there is a "big chance" Loris Karius will start in goal, manager Jürgen Klopp has confirmed.

The Reds face League Two promotion hopefuls Plymouth Argyle in the third round of the FA Cup at Anfield and are expected to make a whole host of changes for the visit of the Pilgrims.

Gomez is one being considered for his first appearance under Klopp, having sustained an anterior cruciate ligament injury over the international break after he was appointed Reds boss.

The England youth international has since battled back to fitness, his comeback delayed by an Achilles problem sustained as he was set to return to training in pre-season.

But Gomez returned to the training pitches at Melwood to applause from his Liverpool teammates back in October and has steadily found his back to full sharpness, partly thanks to behind-closed-doors friendlies and minutes for the Reds' Under-23s, and Klopp is confident he can be called upon against Plymouth.

Klopp says first-team return is Gomez's "logical next step"

The manager told reporters in his pre-match press briefing that the defender is "in good shape" and said "it would not be the biggest surprise if he would be in the line-up" provided that "nothing happens" in the build-up to the game.

Gomez has not played for Liverpool's first-team since 1 October 2015, when he played 90 minutes as former manager Brendan Rodgers' side started their Europa League group stage campaign on a disappointing note with a 1-1 draw at home to FC Sion.

That was the versatile Catford-born youngster's seventh appearance of the campaign, having started the season at left-back following a highly-impressive pre-season after a £3.5 million move from Charlton Athletic.

Klopp noted how it would be Gomez's "first game at Anfield in a long time" and suggested that playing for the senior squad again represents the "next step on a long way to go."

Klopp also said: "He already had a long way and will still be, but everything is good. That's what we said when we didn't really have the idea to give him on loan to another club."

He added that it would be "the next step" and "nice for all" at the club, calling Gomez "a wonderful boy" who the staff and squad are "really happy for" after such a long time out injured.

Klopp revealed that with the 19-year-old having represented the Reds' second team recently, that Gomez was "very self-critical" because he was "not always [at] his absolute best" - calling it "normal after a long period of injury and not playing football."

He declared that Gomez is "on a good way" and that in recent training sessions he has looked "really good", therefore making a first-team appearance "the logical next step."

Reds boss: Karius has trained "outstandingly" since being dropped

Another of the changes is likely to see Karius replace Simon Mignolet in goal for his first start since the club's Premier League draw with West Ham United on 11 December, in which the German was criticised for an unconvincing performance after a string of below-par displays.

The 23-year-old, signed from Klopp's former club Mainz in the summer, has since watched from the bench with Mignolet instead preferred to be number one.

But he will get his opportunity to prove his challenging start to life on Merseyside hasn't rocked his confidence, with Klopp admitting there is a "big chance" that Karius will play this weekend.

The keeper's compatriot insisted that he has "trained outstandingly good" which he labelled "good to see", but felt that it was "difficult to speak about" because the media "make all of these things big stories" which makes the situation "a little bit of a problem."

He insisted that those within the club "cannot ignore the pressure" that the media create, accepting it as "how it is" and saying they "have to cope with it" and "deal with it."

Klopp said that the Karius' reception in the media was "why we made the change" to start Mignolet in their last five matches, adding: "I was sure Loris would benefit from this step back, or step aside, or whatever.

He added that Liverpool's other main shot-stopper, Mignolet, has "done a really outstandingly good job" since coming back into the starting eleven while saying that Karius "forces him to train on the highest level" because they are "two really good goalkeepers" - calling it "good" for Karius to have been out of the limelight over the past month.

Youngsters in the frame, admits Klopp

Elsewhere, the likes of Ovie Ejaria, Alberto Moreno, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Lucas Leiva and Kevin Stewart are in contention - as are young forwards Sheyi Ojo and Ben Woodburn.

On the likelihood of rotation across the line-up, Klopp said that there are a number of younger players who will be considered as he hands vital time to rest to first-team players who are still recovering from a hectic festive fixture schedule.

He said that it "makes absolute sense" for changes to be made, adding: "Of course, not because of the last game, [but] maybe the next game in this case. So, yes, pretty sure we will see a few fresh legs on the pitch."

Klopp said that of the Liverpool squad, those who have "not been involved in the last few games" are "pretty much all" younger, calling it "logical" that when he rotates they have a chance of featuring.