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MK Dons 0-2 Liverpool: Jürgen Klopp's reaction



Jürgen Klopp was 'happy' with a mature performance from a young Liverpool side as they beat Milton Keynes Dons 2-0 in the third round of the Carabao Cup on Wednesday night.

The Reds will take on Arsenal at Anfield in the next stage of the competition after goals from James Milner and Ki-Jana Hoever at Stadium MK.

The tie saw Klopp hand competing senior debuts to Caoimhin Kelleher, Harvey Elliott and Rhian Brewster, with Herbie Kane and Sepp van den Berg also coming in as substitutes to make their bows for the club.

Read on for a summary of the manager's post-match press conference …

On the performance …

Very good moments, couple of individual performances. [For] 75 minutes we controlled the game, so then it was really tricky. Kelleher, to be honest, these games are there so the boys show how good they are. For a goalie, it's quite difficult in a game like this but then being there is not much to do throughout the game and then having these saves, that's absolutely brilliant, so I'm happy about that as well. We could have done better, of course, in that period, there's no doubt about that. But before we controlled the game, we started well as a team but then we got a bit stiff because we didn't score. An early goal would have helped, we had to force the goal then obviously.

The tonight team was a team with a lack of rhythm and a lack of experience. The most experienced and the player with the most rhythm was the best player on the pitch – Millie was pretty obvious. But it's so important that we still do these games, that we're brave enough to use the boys. We're not here with this line-up because we don't respect the competition, we're here to win the game, no other reason. We don't fly to London with all that stuff and then say goodbye. So I'm really happy that we went through, that's cool and that the boys felt adult's football as well, that's really important. Very physical situations for offensive players especially, not overly difficult, but difficult challenges. But still they could show me how good they are, so big step for them and I'm really happy. All good.

On Milner setting such a good example …

Absolutely. This man is on fire, that's how it is. It helps a lot. He's a real role model for young players. If he could play every day, Millie would be like this every day, that's how it is. Absolutely brilliant.

On Harvey Elliott …

16 years old still and this kind of football is good, really good for us. Brilliant boy, takes the situation really well, wants to learn. Tonight, he will always be a special player for moments, but his overall performance when you see him defending, when you see his movements are so smart, it's not easy to outplay him. That's really, really good and his left foot is not too bad. A bit unlucky, otherwise he would have scored. Good player. They're all good, we don't have bad young players, to be honest. They're all really skilled, so that's why it's so important we can give them these matches. We will try to continue like this. We will see.

On Hoever's goal …

It was [a brilliant finish]. I didn't play when I was 18 years old on a similar stage, so it was quite impressive. The atmosphere was good, it's a big stadium – a really nice stadium, by the way, I wish other London clubs would have similar dressing rooms! The first half was very, very defensive-oriented stuff and I'm not sure if it was very often in the box. But when he was needed in the other box, he was there and a wonderful goal, a wonderful cross. Absolutely good.

Whether Hoever's long-term position is full-back or center-back…

There is no reason to decide that now because for the moment he can play both for sure. Full-back is a little better for him at the moment, we have to see how he develops physically because the center is in a very demanding position. You have to be physically 100 per cent ready. He has the speed, he has the passing, the quality. Crossing can be improved, but it has a lot of skills that are necessary or useful in the full-back position. He has speed, but in things he has to be more natural, willing to go in the right direction, open up when you control the pass already so you see the pitch. There are so many things to improve, but it's normal. He's 17 years old and if he couldn't improve anymore that would be really weird. He has the most time and hopefully we use that with him.

On the development of Liverpool's young players…

We don't have to make them quicker and bigger than necessary now. They are all good but there is no reason to say now if someone is not at the same level at the moment then he is not there in a year or so. There is no reason. They all have the right environment so we will improve that environment as well, we will bring in more manpower that we can really take care of these boys more. That's really important. We believe in them but they have to make the next steps. I told them after the game, the last 10 minutes, these guys are naturally fit but you saw it wasn't the game anymore. They lost it and that's not OK. Then you see Millie is running around, you have to feel it on the pitch – that's why it's so important. Whatever I tell them is not the same if they see it on the pitch.

On his impression of MK Dons and their performance…

Good at the end. They changed a lot, they grew in the game. Before the game, I think they'd played 5-4-1 in the last few games in the league. They changed the system for us tonight and changed it into the game again. They had a lot of chances in the end, so that's all good. They are physically very strong with smart strikers, I would say; they use their bodies really well. With a bit more speed than us in passing and stuff like that I think they would have had more problems because we had good situations in the one-on-ones; Millie first half, Curtis in the box. If we are a bit more clear in these situations then we can score earlier, but that's how it is. They did what they could and the whole project looks really nice, I hope the rest of the club is as good as the team and the stadium. Then there's a really positive future there. It was good fun coming tonight, the supporters were on their side but not overly against us I would say, they enjoyed the night. Because we controlled the game so much, it just became really exciting for them in the last 10 minutes. We went into the next round and it was nice at MK Dons.

On Naby Keita's performance after his return from injury…

Obviously he looked good in moments, he looked really good in moments, but he has to adapt to the position again. You see it with Ox as well. Naturally you move a lot more and stuff like this, you find each other a lot more, but that's how it is. He was out for a while, but in the moments you saw what an incredible player he is and how important he will be to us. We don't have to rush it now hopefully, but we can use it now and that's good, good for us. There's a long season to go and everything will be fine.


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