Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp will risk the wrath of the Football Association and public opinion by fielding a youth team in their FA Cup replay with Shrewsbury.
Having conceded a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 at the Montgomery Waters Stadium, Klopp immediately said he would be respecting next month’s Premier League winter break and neither he nor his senior players would be present at Anfield for the return fixture.
Instead he will do what he did in December when there was a clash between their Club World Cup commitments in Qatar and a Carabao Cup quarter-final at Aston Villa and send out under-23 manager Neil Critchley and his team of youngsters.
“In April 2019 we got a letter from the Premier League, I think, where they asked us to respect the winter break and not to organise international friendlies or competitive games. We respect that,” he said.
“So I said to the boys already two weeks ago that we will have a winter break which means we will not be there. It will be the kids who play that game.
“You cannot deal with us like nobody cares about it. I know that it’s not very popular but that’s the way I see it.
“The Premier League asked us to respect the winter break. That’s what we do. If the FA doesn’t respect that, then we cannot change it. We will not be there.
“Does that mean I won’t be there? Yes. Neil Critchley will be in charge.”
Klopp has long been a critic of the football calendar, when games are scheduled and how frequently, so feels it would be hypocritical not to take advantage of a break which has been pencilled in for a year.
“International players like Jordan Henderson, Virgil Van Dijk, Gini Wijnaldum, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Mo Salah, Sadio Mane, all these guys, they are never off,” he added.
“It’s clear there would be a winter break months ago, before I knew the FA Cup replay could come in between.
“I can give you the letter (from the Premier League), it’s like it is, we have to respect it.
“The players will have one week off. They don’t have it ‘off’, they will train but they will train for themselves. They have running programmes, they have fitness programmes, that’s what they do.
“They never have ‘off’ but they don’t come to Melwood and they don’t play a football game.”
The problem could have been easily avoided had they not squandered the advantage given to them by Curtis Jones’ second successive FA Cup game with a goal and an own goal from Donald Love.
Shrews substitute Jason Cummings came off the bench to score twice in 10 minutes and could have snatched an added-time winner.