Liverpool will host Derby County at Anfield this evening in their EFL Cup third-round clash, and the current champions of the competition will be hoping that they can get back on the road to Wembley once again to win the trophy for the second year running.
Jurgen Klopp will no doubt be desperate for his team to put on a world-class performance tonight to distract attention away from the reports that FSG are now willing to sell the club, and the game will give the manager a golden opportunity to give those rarely-seen players in the squad their chance to shine.
It would be unlikely to expect a full-strength Liverpool starting XI this evening as the German coach has been trying to juggle several congested fixtures in the weeks and months leading up to the World Cup alongside non-stop injury issues in the team.
Luis Diaz, Diogo Jota, Joel Matip, James Milner, Naby Keita and Arthur Melo are all currently sidelined with various issues and recovery times ranging from knocks to long-term absences, so it would be no surprise to see heavy rotation tonight.
As a result, one player who could finally be given the opportunity to start in the team to impress the manager with his talents and capabilities is Stefan Bajcetic.
The Liverpool U21s midfielder joined the club from Celta Vigo in 2021 and has already done enough in the youth set-up to earn a spot in the senior squad this season featuring on the bench in nine of the side’s first 13 Premier League outings as well as making his 21-minute top-flight debut in the 9-0 victory over Bournemouth.
Despite his promotion to the first team, Bajcetic has still been a crucial player in the U21s Football League Trophy campaign and over two appearances in the competition has shown glimpses of his talent in the defensive midfield role.
The Spanish 18-year-old has completed 71% of his dribbles and won eight duels per game, as well as averaging one key pass, 2.5 tackles, 65.5 touches and two shots per game with the U21s this season, proving that he is a real threat in the centre of the pitch.
Klopp’s assistant manager Pep Ljinders held the pre-match press conference for the Derby County clash and singled out Bajcetic for praise hailing the youngster ahead of tonight’s game:
“Stefan is someone who’s a joy to watch.
“He has all the characteristics that we search for as a midfield player.
“He’s young, hungry, shows every day in training that he’s ready.”
With that being said, Liverpool could have a secret weapon in Bajcetic that could certainly scare Derby when they visit Anfield this evening. It could be the perfect chance for the talented teenager to prove his worth ahead of the second half of the season.