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KLOPP CHAT Jurgen Klopp hits back at Gary Neville and gives his verdict on Caoimhin Kelleher

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Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has insisted Gary Neville was wrong to criticise him for expressing his belief that players need more rest between matches, as he make a fresh call for Premier League managers to be given the chance to make five substitutions during matches.

Klopp has been outspoken in his belief that clubs need to be helped in a season when they are playing games at a rapid rate, with the succession of injuries affecting players suggesting they are being pushed to breaking point.

Neville suggested on Monday night that club 'got it wrong' in a heated exchange with BT Sport's Des Kelly last weekend, as he claimed fixture congestion has been part of the game since his days as a player at Manchester United.

"The players have had more rest than they've ever had before," argued Neville. "They had three months of Covid, five weeks off before the start of the season. There's more rest this year than any time in football history.

"The rest time has been there. I don't think Jurgen Klopp has a point around fatigue, around the length of time in pre-season, about the Saturday kick-offs. The best managers want to win. He wants to try and gain that advantage.

"Jurgen Klopp has been the best manager in interviews in interviews for the last few years, he is the best manager on the pitch, he's connected with the fans better than anyone, his style of football is fantastic, but on Saturday he got done in an interview.

"He doesn't have the evidence to back up his arguments. He has just lost this particular one. He got it wrong."

Now Klopp has suggested Neville was wrong to claim Klopp's argument was merely an effort to protect his Liverpool players, as he claimed his desire for extra rest periods was for the 'physical and mental health' of players at every club.

"Gary Neville said something but it is not about LFC," Klopp said. "Maybe it is how he would deal with it but he should not think I am like him.

"I speak about all players and not only Liverpool players. It's about player welfare. Mental health and physical health, so we will keep fighting for it.

"Five substitutions is not for us to gain an advantage. At this moment, I don't have enough players to make five substitutions, but clubs are going to be played three times a week now and they will realise that it is tough, especially this season."

Klopp also paid tribute to 22-year-old Irish keeper Caoimhin Kelleher, after he made an impressive Champions League debut in Liverpool's 1-0 win against Ajax on Tuesday night.

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Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp could not hide his delight at Kelleher’s performance (Jon Super/PA)

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp could not hide his delight at Kelleher’s performance (Jon Super/PA)

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp could not hide his delight at Kelleher’s performance (Jon Super/PA)

Kelleher could be in line to make his Premier League debut against Wolves on Sunday, with the glowing endorsement from his manager boosting his confidence.

"He is a hard worker and there’s no doubt that he will deal with all the fuss around him really well," said Klopp of Kelleher.

“It was a big call to throw him into that game but thank God, it worked out. That’s unfortunately not always the case, that doesn’t make the players worse, it is just the wrong timing of the manager.

"Caoimhin is a sensationally talented goalie. And for goalies it’s really difficult, goalies have to wait. They can be exceptional but they have to wait for their chance because there’s only one goalie on the pitch and if this goalie plays for 10 years in a row, it’s pretty difficult. You can be still a wonderful goalie and nobody will see.

"Now he got the chance and I think he convinced everybody. He didn’t have to convince us, obviously – we thought it will be like this. But he convinced everybody, that’s good.

"But Adrian doesn’t deserve just to be written off now, there’s no reason for that. He supported Caoimhin in an exceptional way. After he got the information that he would not start, he behaved unbelievably. Really, really a lot of respect for that. He expected it actually, but anyway a lot of respect for it.

"And Caoimhin did well. So, there are not a lot of reasons I could mention in this moment to say he will not start against Wolves, but there is training in between and other things, he has to stay fit, we have sessions. All this kind of stuff.

"But he has done enough to convince me, but he did that already months and years ago. Sometimes you have wait for the right moment and we thought the right moment came on Tuesday."

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