Jurgen Klopp refuses to let cup final influence his Europa League selection
The Reds manager is preparing his team for two matches that could define their season, starting with the second leg Europa League tie against Augsburg -- with whom they drew 0-0 last week.
But Klopp said there was no point in keeping any powder dry for Sunday's Capital One Cup final against Manchester City, because such caution could backfire.
In fact, he told a news conference on Wednesday that some decisions have been taken out of his hands, with centre-backs Dejan Lovren and Martin Skrtel (who have both had hamstring problems), Adam Lallana (calf) and Joe Allen (back) not available for the European tie.
The flipside is that players such as the injury-plagued Daniel Sturridge, along with Philippe Coutinho -- who also missed most of January with a hamstring strain -- actively need extra matches.
"It's pretty easy because life makes the rules," Klopp said. "If you think about the second step before you make the first, you will always fall down.
"If you think you will leave this player out and that player out, for sure he will fall down injured in training -- so that's not allowed. We only have to think about who's available.
"Dejan was one day back in training and is now ill. Joe Allen is not available, Adam Lallana is in a good way but is not available tomorrow, Martin Skrtel is not available yet, so we will see who is available and then we have three more days to think about Manchester City.
"We need games for players who didn't play for the whole time, like Daniel or Phil. Their highest level is not [yet] absolutely consistent, that's normal, so that's what we're working for."
"A player like Daniel needs rhythm. You can think about leaving him out, but he needs games to get in his best shape. Not even Daniel Sturridge can give performances just like that -- he needs to play."
Klopp said a rare weekend off for Liverpool, who were not in FA Cup action, had helped preparation, although he denied there was any significance in Augsburg having played a Bundesliga match since the first leg.
"There was a different kind of content in training from before now, because we always had to recover," Klopp said. "This time we didn't have to give players time to rest [instead of train].
"On Monday and Tuesday we could train properly -- we had time for recovery then sessions for getting better. That's what we didn't have before.
"I don't think [Augsburg playing] is a factor -- they rotated some players in their squad and it's just the way it worked out."
JK: "If you think about the second step [cup final] before the first step [Augsburg] you will always fall down." #LFC- Liverpool FC (@LFC) February 24, 2016
Having seen no improvement in Liverpool's Premier League form, Klopp knows winning the Europa League represents his side's best chance of claiming a Champions League place. He admitted they would need to raise their game from last Thursday's disjointed performance in Bavaria to keep that ambition alive -- but played down the idea that it was his biggest week at Anfield since taking over in October.
"The players have to learn from last week," he said. "In this competition we have big aims, but it relies on big performances and that's what we need tomorrow against Augsburg: big performances.
"There is a final coming up, but that's not tomorrow. I can't think of a week I've been here when it wasn't important. Usually a final is at the end of a season, this one's in the middle, but tomorrow comes first."
Tom is ESPN FC's Liverpool correspondent. Follow him @writertombell.