Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp can call into the dressing room during the FA Cup replay with Shrewsbury Town, says Under-23s coach Neil Critchley.
Klopp said he and his first-team players will not be at Anfield on Tuesday so they can observe the Premier League’s inaugural winter break.
But Critchley said Klopp could call in with a message at half-time as he did during the Carabao Cup quarter-final defeat at Aston Villa in December.
“It was brilliant,” said Critchley.
“Even though we were going off the pitch at half-time thinking, ‘We’ve played all right there but we’re getting beat 4-0’, it creates that element of doubt in your mind about whether you are doing the right thing and if you need to do something different.
“So when you get a message from the manager saying, ‘Don’t change anything, carry on doing what you’re doing, you’ve been brilliant’, it just clears all that doubt in your mind and you can give that message to the players.
“The message killed every doubt, it settled them right down. It helped everyone at that moment.
“That option is available on Tuesday, but that’s up to the manager.”
Tuesday will be the second time Critchley has overseen a first-team match this campaign after the 5-0 defeat at Villa while Klopp was with the senior squad at the Club World Cup in Qatar.
Liverpool also previously fielded a young side in the FA Cup third-round win over Everton.
Immediately after the 2-2 draw at the Montgomery Waters Meadow on 26 January, Klopp said he and the first team would not be at the replay before saying the club were honouring a letter from the Premier League sent in April 2019 and “nothing would change” if they played the game.
“He supports the young players unbelievably well,” added Critchley.
“Even if he is not there, he is always felt by our younger players and by myself.
“I also think maybe 1% that came into his thinking with his decision was the way we played against Aston Villa, he maybe thought the boys deserved another opportunity.”
Liverpool are expected to field a similar team to the one that played against Villa – which had an average age of 19 years and 182 days.
Their only injury doubt is left-back Yasser Larouci, who played at Shrewsbury.
Shrewsbury are expecting to take more than 5,000 fans to Anfield, in the hope of causing an upset and setting up a trip to Chelsea in the fifth round.
Manager Sam Ricketts is set to play a similar team to the first game, with new signings Conor McAleny, Kayne Ramsay and Harry Burgoyne unavailable after not being registered for the initial tie.
A first – the stats
- Liverpool host Shrewsbury in a match for the first time, Their two previous meetings were both at Shrewsbury in FA Cup fourth-round ties – a 4-0 win for the Reds in February 1996 and the 2-2 draw on 26 January.
- In all competitions, Shrewsbury have won one of their 28 away matches against sides from the top flight (W1 D3 L24), a 1-0 League Cup victory at Leicester City in August 2014.
- Liverpool have won just one of their past five home FA Cup matches against sides from outside the Premier League (W1 D3 L1) – three of those five games have ended 0-0.
- In all competitions, Shrewsbury will be the 99th different English team to play at Anfield and the first new opponent for the Reds since Havant & Waterlooville in January 2008. Only eight of the previous 98 won their first away game at Liverpool, most recently Wimbledon in March 1987.
- Shrewsbury Town’s Jason Cummings scored with both of his shots on target in their 2-2 draw in the original tie against Liverpool. Shrewsbury were the first team to come from two goals behind to avoid defeat against the Reds since West Bromwich Albion in April 2018.
Article courtesy of BBC Sport