Jurgen Klopp says Liverpool want to win the Europa League and his team are here to compete rather than hand out opportunities to youngsters and fringe players.
The Reds begin their Europa campaign on Thursday with a trip to Linz in Austria to face LASK, with many feeling Liverpool would not risk their big-name stars such as Mo Salah, Virgil Van Dijk and Dominik Szoboszlai.
But Klopp insists he won’t be handing out free routes to the first team as youngsters such as Ben Doak and Jarell Quansah are knocking on the door of the starting XI. Fringe stars like Harvey Elliott, Joe Gomez and Caoimhin Kelleher would hope for minutes.
‘We are here to compete,’ said Klopp. ‘Not to give opportunities. I know we are favourites but we are here to play football, we take this game seriously and we want to take the most of it.
‘The stadium is wonderful, it opened in February, we are not arrogant but we want to compete and win here.’
Liverpool last played in the Europa League in the 2016 final - a loss to Sevilla - but Klopp admitted the competition was ‘too much’ for his team that year. ‘I thought the Europa League was a bit much for us that year,’ he said.
‘We had to fly to Russia, long travel and trips to try to become a team somehow. The results helped of course. We played in Switzerland on a frozen pitch. We were not ready but we came somehow through, we played outstandingly well.
‘But I don’t think we were exceptional that year. I would not compare it. We are better prepared. We enjoy it more to be here than we did that time. I am excited by the potential we have.
‘It’s not about what we’ve got, but what we make of it. You can see the spirit - something is growing. The squad enjoys spending time together outside. We will use it, andRead on m.allfootballapp.com