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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 15 December 2018

Leicester City v Liverpool: Danny Ward recalled as Jurgen Klopp sticks with 'crazy' goalkeeper rotation

Klopp also confirmed a first start for new signing Oxlade-Chamberlain, signed from Arsenal on transfer deadline day.

Jurgen Klopp uses Simon Mignolet in Premier League games, Loris Karius in the Uefa Champions League and Danny Ward in the League Cup. Alex Livesey / Getty Images
Jurgen Klopp uses Simon Mignolet in Premier League games, Loris Karius in the Uefa Champions League and Danny Ward in the League Cup. Alex Livesey / Getty Images

Danny Ward has not played a competitive game for almost four months. He contrived to shape this season in his last appearance. The Welshman saved Jordan Obita’s penalty in the Championship play-off final shootout.

Coupled with his stops in its semi-final equivalent, it was a reason why the early-season surprise packages Huddersfield Town were promoted.

The goalkeeper was wanted back on loan by Huddersfield. Jurgen Klopp refused to let him go. It is becoming apparent why. Ward will start for Liverpool at Leicester in the League Cup on Tuesday night.

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Often unconventional, Klopp will continue alternating between his goalkeepers. Simon Mignolet is the Premier League regular, Loris Karius the Uefa Champions League choice.

“I'm not sure the world is ready for such a crazy decision, a third goalkeeper in one season,” said the Liverpool manager. “Danny Ward will play.”

His presence will give a new look to the Liverpool side. Klopp has confirmed three starters. Marko Grujic will begin in midfield. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will also feature, either alongside Grujic or as a winger. The £35 million (Dh174.3m) signing from Arsenal has had three cameos as Liverpool have tried to get him used to Klopp’s unique blueprint.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for Alex,” said the German. “He had a wonderful impact in the last game. We work with him and analysts to show him how we want to play in this position and that position. It’s worked too, but there is no rush.”

The demands are not just tactical. It is physically exhausting to play for Liverpool. Georginio Wijnaldum admitted as much as he welcomed the arrival of Oxlade-Chamberlain. The Dutchman accepted that strength in depth is a must.

“Last season, I played almost all the games, but at the end of it, my body was broken,” he said. “But players will get tired, so if you have a big squad it’s easier to manage at the end of the season.

"Last season, we didn’t have a lot of options at certain stages so that made it hard. It has already changed from last year because we have so many matches, we have to rest a lot. It’s always good when you can rotate the players.”

Wijnaldum was one of those who dropped out of the team for Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Burnley, when Klopp made seven changes. He can probably expect a recall on Tuesday night.

In the long term his place may be under threat, especially as Liverpool have agreed to sign Leipzig’s Naby Keita next summer, but he gave an illustration into the mentality required to prosper in such a competitive environment.

“I look at it this way. I play for Liverpool and a lot of players want to play for Liverpool,” he said. “Liverpool wants a lot of good players. In the end, you have to compete with good players in your position. I am not going to complain.

"You could be a top player in your position, but if they can buy another top player in that same position, they will do it because if they don’t, another club will.”

The criticism of Liverpool is that they have not been as acquisitive in the heart of defence that has been breached eight times in the last three games.

Changes are expected there. Klopp is waiting to see if Dejan Lovren is fit – Joe Gomez will play centre-back if not – and there is a place in the squad for Jon Flanagan, whose last Liverpool appearance came 16 months ago.

Yet a greater focus will come on the last line of the defence as Ward seeks to prove there is method of Klopp’s supposed madness of picking three goalkeepers in as many games.