Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp insists every player – including captain Jordan Henderson – has to accept they cannot play every match in the Premier League run-in.
The Reds boss was forced to play down claims of a fall-out after the pair did not shake hands, a misunderstanding according to Klopp, when the England midfielder was substituted in the goalless draw at Manchester United. Henderson started the midweek win over Watford on the bench.
Sunday’s Merseyside derby at Goodison Park is a match all the players want to be involved in and as the title race ticks down each game will become more important.
However, Klopp said whether players were happy or not they had to fall into line.
“They accept it. I don’t think they are happy,” he said.
“Hendo played a lot of games this season then for a while had had an injury here and there. Milly (James Milner) had the same, Gini (Wijnaldum) had them, Naby (Keita), they all had their problems.
“The most important thing is how it will fit for the next opponent? That’s the first thing I think about.
“Then if more things than one could fit, then you start thinking about who may need a rest or whatever, or who is a little bit better in this, or this.
“Hendo has played a really good season. I told him. He looked like he was not happy (at Old Trafford), but (he was) completely OK.
“I don’t tell players before the game that they will not play. I don’t walk through the dressing room and say ‘You don’t play, you don’t play’.
“You see that on the training ground, and as a player of Liverpool you know that you don’t play all the games. It’s a normal situation.
“But because of the stories after the United game, after my reaction, I thought it made sense to tell [Jordan] it has nothing to do with that, because it was nothing. That’s it.”
Local tensions will be more of an issue on Sunday as Liverpool head to Goodison Park with memories of their added-time victory over Everton at Anfield in December still relatively fresh in the mind.
It was memorable for Toffees goalkeeper Jordan Pickford’s error, Divock Origi’s goal and Klopp’s 40-yard run onto the pitch to celebrate with goalkeeper Alisson Becker which earned the Reds boss an £8,000 fine.
Klopp insists there will be no repeat performance at the weekend.
“We all know my celebration. I will not do it again, but what happened that day was very surprising,” he added.
“(Everyone thought) the ball was out, Virg (Virgil Van Dijk) already turned (away) after his wonderful volley, but Div stayed awake and scored that goal.
“It was a very special moment, but it’s not the time, two days before the game, to say we want something like that again.”
The defeat sent Everton’s results into a downward spiral to the extent there is a 33-point gap between them and their neighbours.
Everton fans would love nothing more than to put a huge dent in Liverpool’s title aspirations.
“Of course the fans of Everton don’t want us to win anything, and our fans are the same with them. It’s only very emotional, very passionate and for me that’s how football should be,” said Klopp.
“I am not sure if it is possible to be more motivated than they were and we were that day! Of course the game was special.
“We know it will be really tough. At Goodison they really support their team, so now let’s go there and use that atmosphere.
“It will be loud, it will be wild, it will be everything, and we have to deliver that on the pitch as well.”
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