EXETER, United Kingdom: Jurgen Klopp insisted injuries were to blame as he sent out an inexperienced Liverpool side in their FA Cup third round tie at Exeter on Friday (Saturday in Manila) and admitted he barely knew some of the players.
Reds boss Klopp, taking part in the FA Cup for the first time, made 11 changes to the starting line-up that won at Stoke in the League Cup semi-final first leg on Tuesday.
Philippe Coutinho, Dejan Lovren and Kolo Toure were all injured at Stoke to take the number of Liverpool players currently sidelined to 13.
Defender Tiago Ilori, who recently had his loan spell at Aston Villa cancelled, was given his debut, as were winger Ryan Kent and midfielder Kevin Stewart, who returned from League One Swindon this week.
Belgium striker Christian Benteke was one of the few recognisable names as he captained the side for the first time in his Liverpool career.
Only two of Klopp’s team had more than four appearances for Liverpool and the German admitted he hasn’t seen all of the youngsters playing in person before.
“On video I saw some of those playing. Not all of them I saw a lot but it is the situation and special problems need special solutions,” Klopp told BBC Sport.
“These boys know each other, a lot of them have played in the youth and this is the future of Liverpool FC.
“We don’t have the chance to gamble. It is the only team I could present tonight. We had to react on our situation. It is not usual you have this situation with centre-halves.
“Nobody is resting. All are doing what they have to do to be in the best shape.”