Jurgen Klopp said preparing to face a youthful Aston Villa team in Friday’s FA Cup third-round clash presented a challenge he had never faced before.
Sadio Mane scored twice as Liverpool eased past a youthful Aston Villa side 4-1 in their FA Cup third-round tie at Villa Park on Friday night.
Job done ✅
The Reds go through to the next round of the #FACup 🔴
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) January 8, 2021
Sixteen Villa players made their first-team debuts on Friday and Delaney said he was immensely proud of the character they had shown.
A penny for the thoughts of the Villa youngsters when they were told they would be lining up against the likes of Salah, Mane and Jordan Henderson.
The club’s chief executive Christian Purslow explained how, on Thursday, the staff had to find enough players from the under-23s and under-18s to come up with a matchday squad.
Christian Purslow said that many of the players were so young that their “mums and dads would be dropping them off at Villa Park”.
There were four players in the first XI who had recently hit driving age, 17, and midfielder Benjamin Chrisene was the youngest of the crop at just 16.
“The kids did really well,” Klopp told reporters. Ït was a tricky one. I’ve never had this kind of challenge in my life, that you have no idea who you’re playing against – absolutely no idea.”
Mark Delaney, the Villa Under-23 coach deputising for Smith, added: “We are all very proud as a club, as coaches and players. That was a monumental effort considering what the players have had to go through.”
Liverpool hosts Manchester United on January 17 as it returns to Premier League action.