Liverpool duo Takumi Minamino and Naby Keita were handed rare starts in the Merseyside derby against Everton on Sunday. January signing Minamino made his full Premier League debut and Keita started for just the fifth time in the league this season. Keita started in midfield in place of Georginio Wijnaldum, with Minamino replacing Mohamed Salah who was only fit enough for the bench.
Divock Origi or Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain could have been preferred to either Minamino or Keita.
But former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher says the form of Minamino and Keita in the build up to Project Restart forced Jurgen Klopp’s hand.
The duo both scored in the 6-0 friendly win over Blackburn at Anfield earlier this month.
“It’s actually interesting the team,” Carragher said on Sky Sports.
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“It’s not so much the team that was playing three months ago and was winning most games.
“Keita’s come back in, Minamino now, [Joe] Gomez is out, [Joel] Matip has come in.
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“So there’s a few changes, I think a lot of that is down to the reports certainly in the last few weeks that Keita and Minamino have been the two stars if you like in this almost semi pre-season and maybe that’s why they’ve been given the nod.”
Left-back Andy Robertson was not fit enough to even be named among the substitutes at Goodison Park.
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Klopp explained his team selection before the match and said Robertson would be available again against Crystal Palace on Wednesday.
“There are different reasons for the line-up,” Klopp told liverpoolfc.com
“It’s a really special time and in this time, after four weeks’ pre-season and preparation, we cannot ignore that we play again on Wednesday. I just can’t.
“It’s not the last game of the season, so I have to think a little bit about it.
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“Some players couldn’t train in the last week – they trained, but not with the team – like Mo and Robbo, but yesterday they were in training and both looked really good.
“That’s why Mo is in the squad, Robbo not yet but on Wednesday [he will be] again.
“For Robbo, it was better to have a proper session today and then be in for Wednesday, and for Mo it is the right thing to do it like this.”
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