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Jürgen Klopp exposes rival managers with genius Liverpool move timed to perfection

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Liverpool secured another trip to Wembley in the Carabao Cup final as it saw off Fulham despite a host of key first-team players being unavailable to Jürgen Klopp.

With his Liverpool side facing a Fulham onslaught in the final stages of its Carabao Cup semi-final, Jürgen Klopp raised a few eyebrows with a fourth change of the night. Having just introduced Ibrahima Konaté to shore up the backline, Klopp also brought on young midfielder Bobby Clark, who had just five senior appearances to his name.

Off went Dutch international Ryan Gravenberch and while he didn’t exactly have experienced options on the bench, the Liverpool boss once again put his trust in the 18-year-old. Clark has now featured off the bench in three of Liverpool’s last four matches, all away from home.

While Sunday’s rout at Bournemouth was the perfect opportunity to get some minutes in, Clark has been introduced in the games at Fulham and Arsenal too, where the pressure has well and truly been on. He has passed those tests with flying colors and Klopp has indicated more chances will follow.

Speaking after the win at Craven Cottage, Klopp said: “Bobby Clark, it’s so nice to bring him on now. Everybody sees he is ready. That’s now the next step for him. Was he ready half a year ago? I don’t know but now he is. Now we can bring him on, he can fill the role and make an impression and that’s really good.”

And Clark isn’t the only one stepping into the breach. Conor Bradley continued his fine run of form in the absence of Trent Alexander-Arnold with an assured display against Willian, who remains a very tricky opponent.

Then there is Jarell Quansah, who is getting better and better with every opportunity. After losing Joël Matip to a long-term injury, Klopp faced calls to bring in a replacement until the end of the season at least.

Knowing that would be difficult, the Liverpool boss put his trust in Quansah, and he hasn’t looked back. The 20-year-old has all the attributes to be an elite defender and he showcased his abilities on the ball at Fulham, with a fine long ball to set up Luis Díaz.

With a number of first-team players absent at present, Liverpool’s youngsters are being increasingly relied upon. And importantly, they are taking their place in the squad knowing they have a good chance of getting some game time.

More minutes will follow against Norwich in the FA Cup this weekend and Klopp deserves huge credit for that. Amid the increased pressure for success, his managerial counterparts are going with more and more experience to get over the line. Yet in the quest for four trophies, Klopp is giving the kids a deserved opportunity.

He has no issues making changes during games either with his substitutes enjoying great success this season. Liverpool has 31 goal involvements (goals or assists) from the bench this campaign, which is comfortably the most in the Premier League. In that sense, his perfectly-judged substitutions are putting other managers to shame.

The remarkable statistic does highlight the quality that Klopp has at his disposal although Liverpool is not the only team with strength in depth in the division. The Liverpool boss clearly has his whole squad pulling in the same direction and right now there seems to be no stopping them.

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