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Klopp praises Liverpool kids during injury crisis at Anfield

London (AFP) – Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp admits his team “would have been lost” without the academy players who filled in after injuries wreaked havoc on his squad.

At one stage the Reds boss had 10 senior players out, including long-term absentees Virgil Van Dijk and Joe Gomez, and had no option but to use his wider squad.

Despite the handicap, Liverpool are level on points with Tottenham at the top of the Premier League and have qualified for the knockout stages of the Champions League with a match to spare.

Last week two of his teenagers, Neco Williams and Curtis Jones, combined for the only goal against Ajax, which guaranteed them top spot in their group, while 22-year-old Caoimhin Kelleher impressed on his European and Premier League debuts.

Many of Liverpool’s youngsters may get another chance to impress in the dead rubber against Midtjylland in Denmark on Wednesday.

“We clearly had some problems injury-wise, we lost top-class players to injuries and of course it’s one door closes and another opens up,” Klopp said on Tuesday.

“You still need the right kids, the right players to use the chance. Without them we would have been lost, to be honest. Thank God it worked out.”

The German boss name-checked a number of players, including Jones and Kelleher.

“Curtis plays like he’s played 10 years for us,” he said. “Caoimhin was always a talent and now he has the chance to show that on the big stage, to use that opportunity is nice for him.

“The biggest part is obviously that they are really ready for this. They are the biggest reason for it.”

Forward Divock Origi is expected to start on Wednesday after being left out of Sunday’s match-day squad.

“Divock is not injured but we don’t have a lot of players and our offensive options are better than other areas and so I cannot just break up three strikers,” said Klopp.

“He is in a good shape but not in the squad for the Premier League last time.”

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