Liverpool's sporadic starters left in no-man's-land after early League Cup exit

Liverpool's schedule is clearer as a result of Tuesday's defeat to Leicester City, but what about those that don't know where the next start comes from?

Liverpool's sporadic starters left in no-man's-land after early League Cup exit
Both Jon Flanagan (right) and Dominic Solanke (left) are unlikely to start league games or in Europe (photo: Getty Images / Matthew Ashton - AMA)

Few would say it openly, but many Liverpool fans will have seen some positives as they crashed out of the Carabao Cup to Leicester City on Tuesday evening.

Goals from Shinji Okazaki and Islam Slimani condemned the Reds to a 2-0 defeat, meaning that the wait for a first trophy under Jurgen Klopp will go on for another few months at least.

No more burnt fingers, at least

Klopp has of course nearly landed Liverpool a first pot since 2012 twice, lost finals to Manchester City and Sevilla in his first season followed up by a successful assault on the top four last time around.

However, even last season, the Reds had their fingers burnt by the League Cup.

Having come through a tough looking Christmas schedule with 10 points from 12, January was a step too far for an admittedly small squad.

Losing both legs of the, then, EFL Cup semi-final to Southampton, league form tailed off too with dropped points against Manchester United, Swansea City, Sunderland and Chelsea contributing to Klopp's side never really fighting for the title as their Autumnal form had suggested they would.

Therefore, this time around, there are fewer distractions. A Champions League group is of course added to the schedule, but the addition's of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Dominic Solanke and Andrew Robertson have boosted the squad in the same way that Mohamed Salah's arrival strengthened the first choice eleven.

Liverpool are better placed to compete on multiple fronts, but the feeling around Anfield is that going for the League Cup in addition to a Champions League run would have compromised their league form as it has done in previous years.


Handful of players left without minutes

So, positives to take for many, apart from a few starting players that have now been left in limbo.

Danny Ward, for instance, had the League Cup penned in as his opportunity to impress. He did, to an extent, against Leicester.

Commanding from crosses, set-pieces and long ball's, Ward couldn't be blamed for either goal and did his chances of future opportunities no harm at all.

However, with Simon Mignolet having been labelled as 'number one' by Klopp and Loris Karius making his appearances in the Champions League, Ward is now restricted in terms of when he can pick up game time.

Danny Ings is another who, like Ward, could have easily gone out on loan this season. Unlike fellow forward Divock Origi, he stayed, and is now stuck behind Roberto Firmino, Daniel Sturridge and youngster Dominic Solanke in the pecking order.

What now for Marko Grujic who, although doing little of note with the ball on Tuesday, showed that he's not lost his physical edge despite limited appearances with a number of commanding headers. Could he have been better suited to a loan, if Liverpool hadn't planned to make much of an effort in the League Cup?

Jon Flanagan looked out of it on Tuesday. Recovering from a nightmare run of injuries, the once-promising defender's physical capabilities look nowhere near the standard required to be a Premier League player.

Lazar Markovic is another who deserves a mention, kept in the summer as Liverpool didn't receive an offer they felt matched the value of a player that couldn't even pick up a start in the 'least important' game of the season so far.

Liverpool will likely gain something from losing on Tuesday, especially with Klopp's 14/15 most relied upon players being afforded the odd mid-week off in December and January as they rest up for Premier League and European challenges.

But, how content the sporadic starters will be around that point, could be a whole new January issue for Klopp to deal with.