Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp defends FA Cup stance
Klopp also confirms Sadio Mane will miss Liverpool's next three games
By Dan Sansom
Last Updated: 28/01/20 5:41pm
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has defended his choice to play the club's U23 side against Shrewsbury in their FA Cup fourth-round replay, insisting he has to make "decisions that aren't popular based on the situation".
Klopp has confirmed he will not attend the match which falls during the club's winter break, with U23s manager Neil Critchley taking charge instead.
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The decision has attracted criticism, with Accrington Stanley chairman Andy Holt calling for Liverpool to be fined, while the FA says it warned clubs about the dates of replays and says it "went to great lengths" to ensure a break could happen at all.
However, on his decision to rest his first-team squad, Klopp said: "I have to make decisions that aren't popular based on the situation we are in. The FA tried to move games to midweek to decrease intense period.
"Whoever was involved in that, maybe from us they forgot to say no. They gave us two weeks and it was not clear which week.
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"We cannot have a week off and say 'okay, there are two days to prepare for a Champions League game'. Because we plan long term, I cannot plan when there is a real decisive period coming up. I decided three weeks ago we would have a mid-season break based on a letter we got in April 2019.
"I don't want to be in the middle of these discussions. If people think I am lazy because I am not there, I cannot change that and I'm not interested. I just feel responsible for my players. If we find a way to play it then nothing will change and we have to change it.
"I am not sure who was there in the discussions but no sporting people were there for the talks. This week is the break. Our players train [while away] just not here at Melwood.
"We had to make a decision and I have. Now it looks like people want something different. Could I be here for it? Of course but it is a misunderstanding of coaching. I cannot just show up for it within two days. They need their coach and that is Critch. We will try to win it.
"The mid-season break has to be settled for the next years. We all have to find a solution so it is not like this again. It is just not how it should be."
Mane to miss three games
Liverpool play their game in hand in the Premier League against West Ham at the London Stadium on Wednesday night, where a win would take them 19 points clear of Manchester City at the top of the table.
However, they will be without forward Sadio Mane, who Klopp said will miss the next three games after he was forced off with a hamstring injury during the first half of the 2-1 win at Wolves.
Klopp said: "Sadio will not be involved for West Ham and probably not Southampton. After that he will be back on track.
"He has a small muscle tear which is serious enough. We were lucky with it though it wasn't too serious. He's out for three games."