Liverpool were forced to make a late change to their starting line-up for Sunday’s Carabao Cup final against Chelsea after Thiago Alcantara succumbed to injury before kick-off. Jurgen Klopp has named Naby Keita as the Spaniard’s replacement in midfield, with Harvey Elliott entering the squad.
Liverpool and Chelsea face off at Wembley Stadium to lift the first piece of major silverware of the English football season.
But Klopp suffered a setback at the 11th hour after Thiago was announced ‘injured during the warm-up’ just 10 minutes from kick-off.
The 30-year-old was captured in tears on the Liverpool bench ahead of kick-off after missing out on a spot in the final under the famous arch.
And Keita has received a big chance in his absence as the Reds look to lift their first League Cup since 2012.
Thiago’s late withdrawal will worry Liverpool fans, and it might have disrupted Klopp’s planning for the game against the European champions.
The German coach hailed Thiago’s quality earlier this week, labelling his skillset [insane] ahead of the 6-0 win over Leeds United at Anfield, but acknowledged concerns over his fitness.
He said: “We all agree, and Thiago agrees; there were moments when he struggled injury-wise.
“He is a very, very good player. We were never in doubt about that, his skillset is insane, but it is all about staying fit, and that’s what we are working on together.”
Both managers unsurprisingly named full-strength teams ahead of their battle in the capital.
But Liverpool entered the clash with the most momentum after winning their last nine games in all competitions.
In recent weeks, the Reds have reignited their Premier League title challenge and now trail leaders Manchester City by just six points with a game in hand.
Chelsea’s results have been just as impressive, winning their last six and lifting the Club World Cup during that period.
If Liverpool triumph over the Blues at Wembley, they would secure a record ninth League Cup success, but their first in 10 years.
In recent years, Man City’s domination in the competition, winning four of the last five editions, has put them level with the Merseyside club on eight wins.
But Liverpool will hope the trophy will bear red ribbons once again after full-time on Sunday.
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