Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp is standing firm over his decision to send out a younger team managed by Under-23 coach Neil Critchley in the FA Cup fourth round replay against Shrewsbury, insisting the Reds must ‘take a stand’ to protect the first-team’s winter break.

Klopp has long been outspoken on concerns of overplaying and a lack of rest and next month sees the first Premier League ‘winter break’ in a bid to combat that. But Liverpool’s cup replay will be played during what should be time off and Klopp now believes it is a matter of ‘principle’.

Liverpool used a weakened team in the initial tie against Shrewsbury, with Klopp hoping to get through against the lower league opposition and simultaneously rest his stars. Now, he is refusing to even attend the replay at Anfield because it clashes with the winter break.

“What difference would it make? Why should I be there? Give me a reason why I should?” he is quoted as saying by the Daily Telegraph.

“On the football side it is clear and the other thing is we have to make a stand. We had to make a decision,” he continued. “I think it’s necessary that these boys, these all-time players who constantly play, get their time off. We are a football team and we are a group together. We are all or nobody. We had to make the decision then and we made it.

“Of course we thought we would win [the first game], but we didn't and although it was not in the beginning it is now a principle thing.”

Jurgen Klopp

Klopp’s intention to skip the replay and send out what could end up being a similar side to the team that was thrashed 5-0 by Aston Villa in the Carabao Cup quarter-finals has divided opinion.

The FA hit back at the criticism of scheduling replays during the winter break by explaining that all clubs were fully aware and accepted the fact that if a fourth round replay was necessary, it would have to be played during that break.

They have already scrapped replays from the fifth round onwards to lessen fixture congestion.

“Prior to start of the 2019/20 season, all clubs accepted that Emirates FA Cup fourth round replays, where required, would have to take place during the first week of the mid-season player break,” a statement from the governing body read earlier this week.

Jurgen Klopp

But, in further comments published by The Guardian, Klopp responded to that by claiming that the FA did not consult ‘sports-responsible people’ when making decisions and seeking approval.

As for his non-attendance, Klopp said: “I could [be there] but that would be a complete misunderstanding of management and coaching. It’s not about showing up for the team for two days and now I tell the boys [what to do]. They need their coach and they get their coach: Critch.”

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