We'll field our best team against Southampton, insists Liverpool boss Jürgen Klopp ahead of semi-final first leg

We'll field our best team against Southampton, insists Liverpool boss Jürgen Klopp ahead of semi-final first leg

Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp insists his starting side will be the strongest it can be when the Reds face Southampton in the first of two EFL Cup semi-final legs on the south coast on Wednesday night.

Charlie Malam

Jürgen Klopp has vowed that Liverpool will field the "best team" they can when they face Southampton in the first leg of their EFL Cup semi-final meeting on Wednesday night and hinted that Loris Karius is likely to keep his place in goal.

Karius made his first appearance in almost a month as he came in for Simon Mignolet in the 0-0 third round FA Cup draw with Plymouth Argyle on Sunday.

And though he was rarely called into action at Anfield, making just the one save, Klopp insisted that he is likely to keep faith with his compatriot when they travel to St Mary's Stadium in mid-week.

Klopp: We'll go as strong as we possibly can

With the 23-year-old having endured a testing start to life on Merseyside since joining from Mainz in the summer, Klopp told journalists ahead of Southampton that he had made "no final decision until now" but that it was "pretty likely" Karius would start again.

"It's fair for his response in training," he continued, hailing his "performances and all that stuff" as he said it is "likely" he will retain his starting berth although he was "not sure."

On his plans for his starting eleven, having made 10 changes against Plymouth as only Emre Can kept his place in what was the youngest ever team in the club's 125-year history, Klopp said that "everybody who is ready and good enough" will be available against the Saints.

He explained that's how he "always" decides his XI and said that they made as many changes as they did against the Pilgrims for "different reasons", nothing that "there were no real alternatives for this line-up in this moment."

The German stated that some of his first-team players have had "a little bit too many games" and that "with matches coming up" they were not fully fit.

He cited right-back Nathaniel Clyne as one such example, saying he "nearly played all the time" while Adam Lallana "played always when he was fit but wasn't fit all the time" as did Georginio Wijnaldum.

As a result, he said that "was the decision for the line-up" against their lower league opponents, and said it "is for the next game" too - adding: "Both of these games are very important. I make no different in judging these games. Wednesday, the best team we can line up [will play]. That's how it is."

Reds boss: We will be ready for United, but Southampton comes first

Yet the manager also acknowledged the Reds' crunch Premier League clash with rivals Manchester United at Old Trafford on Sunday - insisting that only those who are at full fitness will be considered to take part.

Klopp added that, when it comes to his team decisions, it is "always who I have available and who can line-up" and that it's "not about young, old, whatever."

"It's about which line-up makes most sense because of the individual situation of the player," he argued. "And the timing is very important, it's about when do we play who?"

The Reds boss admitted that the clash with United is "not possible with one or two players who are not 100 per-cent fit at the moment" although he refused to name those in question.

He continued to say that if those players are "not in my plans for Southampton" they can still be in contention for United but only "if they are close enough" which is "the only thing."

Klopp said that Liverpool "have 18, 19 players or around about 20 ready" for Southampton, a few of which played against Plymouth, saying they will "have to see how they react" and "how are the other players who were not involved for some reasons" and decide on the starting eleven from there.

He acknowledged that United is "a game like the Everton games" in which "you can pick them out of the season" and it is "always a special game", but said: "It's not important when it is or how much the points difference is. It's a derby and you need to be ready for this. We will be ready, but first of all, we have to play Southampton."

Injured trio "on their way back", says Klopp

Having admitted the returning Philippe Coutinho could be "fit enough for being part of the squad" and suggesting he would get game time dependent "on the game", Klopp also issued updates on Jordan Henderson, Joel Matip and James Milner.

Asked about the fitness of his squad, he replied: "All good. No new injuries and all the rest are on their way back. How close? It's different."

He explained that Matip is making his "first steps, if you want, in team training" and said Milner has "no issues anymore."

Klopp also declared that Henderson is "on a very good way" because the Reds skipper is "a really mentally strong guy." He explained that while the midfielder's problem is "still painful", he is "doing well" and they will "see what we can do with him" with a potential return to team training "hopefully" pencilled in for Thursday.