Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has ruled out fielding different teams in two competitions in two countries – possibly on the same day – to solve the club’s Carabao Cup quarter-final issue.
The Reds were drawn to play Aston Villa in the last eight in the week commencing 16 December, when they are in Qatar for the Fifa Club World Cup.
„We cannot leave any players at home for the Carabao Cup,“ said Klopp.
The Premier League is unlikely to allow Liverpool to move any top-flight games.
Their league game at West Ham United has already been postponed because of their participation in the tournament in the Middle East.
The Anfield club and the EFL are in talks over an alternative date but Klopp said there was „no final decision yet“.
„We have two games there [Qatar] in a very busy period,“ the German added.
„It’s not that we can go there with 11 players and say they play the two games in Qatar and the other guys play in England against Aston Villa. It doesn’t work like that.
„We have to make the decision and we will make the decision – but not yet.“
There appear to be no potential slots in December, a month when Liverpool already have eight fixtures scheduled – five in the Premier League, their final Champions League group match and two Club World Cup games.
There is a midweek window after the FA Cup third round on the first weekend in January – but that would mean playing the Villa tie when the first legs of the EFL Cup semi-finals are due to take place.
Another midweek slot is potentially available in the week commencing 13 January, before the second legs take place in the week beginning 27 January.
The EFL Cup final is on 1 March and Klopp questioned the logic of the competition having two-legged semi-finals.
„After a very busy schedule in December, there is two [legged] semi-finals,“ he said.
„It is an easy decision for me to say: ‚OK, if you keep that competition, why have two (legged) semi-finals?'“
BBC Sport understands the EFL is not planning any change to the format of the two-legged EFL Cup semi-finals.
|Liverpool’s fixture pile-up (Premier League unless stated)|
|4 December||Everton (h)|
|7 December||Bournemouth (a)|
|10 December||Red Bull Salzburg (a)||Champions League|
|14 December||Watford (h)|
|16 December||Week of EFL Cup quarter-finals|
|18 December||TBC (Qatar)||Club World Cup|
|21 December||TBC (Qatar)||Club World Cup|
|26 December||Leicester City (a)|
|29 December||Wolverhampton Wanderers (h)|
|2 January||Sheffield United (h)|
|4 & 5 January||FA Cup third round|
|6 January||Week of EFL Cup semi-final first legs|
|11 January||Tottenham Hotspur (a)|
|19 January||Manchester United (h)|
|23 January||Wolverhampton Wanderers (a)|
|27 January||Week of EFL Cup semi-final second legs|
|1 February||Southampton (h)|
‚Leagues need to think about players and not wallets‘
The problems faced by Liverpool over their fixture congestion also resulted in Klopp urging football’s authorities to discuss the workload on players.
„It’s obvious that it’s too much,“ said the former Borussia Dortmund manager. „Everybody involved in the game would tell you that.
„At the moment there is an imbalance between the number of players in the squad, the competitions you have to play, and a big gap between the breaks the boys need and get.
„The Manes, Salahs, Hendersons – all these guys have two weeks off a year, in a physically demanding job.
„The solutions? I think there are a few possible but the leagues have to sit and really discuss, and think about the players and maybe not about their wallet.
„These are the games we have to play – and we play them with all we have – but somebody has to think about how many games.“
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola said he had sympathy with Klopp and agreed that there are too many games for top-flight players.
„If we have bigger squads, how do we pay them? We need less fixtures, less competitions, more recovery,“ the Spaniard said on Friday.
„But I have been in meetings and it’s always the same. We just talk about it.
„I’m completely with Jurgen when he makes these statements – it’s too much.
„I had to prioritise Ilkay Gundogan for the last game – no Kevin [de Bruyne], no David Silva. Other clubs do the same.“