|Carabao Cup semi-final, first leg: Liverpool v Fulham
|Date: Wednesday, 10 January Kick-off: 20:00 GMT. Listen to full match commentary on BBC Radio 5 Live; follow live text commentary on the BBC Sport website & app
Assistant boss Pep Lijnders says Liverpool must utilise their “many weapons” to make up for the absence of key players in Wednesday’s Carabao Cup semi-final first leg against Fulham.
Forward Mohamed Salah is away with Egypt for the Africa Cup of Nations, while midfielder Wataru Endo is taking part in the Asian Cup with Japan.
“There’s no ‘irreplaceable’,” said Lijnders.
“We have many weapons. We don’t rely on one, two or three or four players. We’re missing probably four or five core players from our leadership group – Robbo [Andy Robertson], Trent [Alexander-Arnold], Mo [Salah]. So yeah, missing three from the leaders. That’s a blow, of course.”
The Reds will be able to welcome back captain Virgil van Dijk for the visit of Fulham to Anfield.
The Netherlands international missed the win against Arsenal in the FA Cup third round at the weekend because of illness.
Liverpool are hoping to keep alive their hopes of a record-extending 10th EFL Cup win, but Lijnders knows Jurgen Klopp’s side cannot look too far beyond Wednesday’s game.
“I think the team has this hunger,” Lijnders said. “It’s the closest final we can reach.
“But we have to respect Fulham. They have a very clear way, a good offensive idea, really creative.”
Fulham focused only on first leg
After Wednesday’s game, Fulham will host Liverpool in the second leg at Craven Cottage on 24 January.
However, Fulham boss Marco Silva warned his side must not think beyond the first leg just yet.
“You’re talking about two games but, at the same time, you cannot be thinking about the second game if you don’t do so well in the first,” Silva said.
“This is where you have to have the right balance.
“I don’t want the players just thinking about the second game, because if we don’t do our job really well in the first one, probably the chances to be decisive at home are not going to be there.
“Because of that, we have to play really at our best level there.”