Liverpool begins their EFL Cup defense on Wednesday evening when League One Derby County visits Anfield.
The Reds overcame Chelsea 11-10 on penalties in the 2021-22 EFL Cup final, winning the cup for the seventh time in club history. They enter the midweek cup encounter fresh off a 2-1 Premier League away win against Tottenham, thanks to a Mohamed Salah brace.
Jurgen Klopp’s team ended a two-game losing streak in the Premier League with the victory at Tottenham, and they will be determined to get past Derby County into the fourth round of the domestic cup competition.
Joel Matip is expected to miss out again with a calf problem, but James Milner could be back after serving the six-day concussion protocol.
Naby Keita (muscle) is short of match fitness despite a return to training and will not be a part of the Liverpool squad in midweek. Meanwhile, Luis Diaz, Diogo Jota, and Arthur Melo are long-term absentees for the Reds.
Caoimhin Kelleher is a certainty to replace Alisson Becker in goal after playing a vital role in winning the competition for Liverpool last term, scoring the title-clinching penalty against Chelsea in the final.
Jurgen Klopp is expected to rotate his squad on Wednesday as he looks to keep his first-team players fresh and fit for the final league game on the weekend before the World Cup hiatus.
So, he could provide Ibrahima Konate a night off after the defender recently returned from a muscle injury, which could open the door for Joe Gomez to start in the Liverpool lineup.
Virgil van Dijk is the Reds’ defensive lynchpin and should partner Gomez in central defense against Derby County. Kostas Tsimikas should take Andy Robertson’s place at left-back, while young Calvin Ramsay is primed for his first start of the season at right-back in the Liverpool lineup.
In what is expected to be a rotated side, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will join Jordan Henderson and Curtis Jones in the Reds’ engine room. Henderson will operate as the defensive midfielder, giving Oxlade-Chamberlain and Jones the license to roam forward.
Stefan Bajcetic may get an opportunity to impress off the bench in the second half.
Harvey Elliot, Fabio Carvalho, and Darwin Nunez should also benefit from rotation up front, with the latter going through the middle this time around after playing out wide against Tottenham.
Elliot will start on the right in the Liverpool lineup, with Carvalho hoping to enjoy a productive night on the right against the Rams.
Mohamed Salah and Thiago Alcantara could be afforded a rest to keep them fresh and healthy against Southampton in the Premier League at the weekend.