Jurgen Klopp says he was protecting the health of the player when substituting Roberto Firmino against Wolves on Saturday when Liverpool were 2-0 down.
The Brazilian had probably been our biggest threat and many fans were confused when he exited proceedings, considering we had two goals to claw back.
Klopp though says that with the January fixture list so hectic, he had to make the decision, especially with Chelsea coming up on Tuesday.
“Even when the game is not in the direction I want I cannot ignore how often Roberto played this season. He plays nearly every time and he’s a very, very important player for us,” Klopp told the Echo.
“So for me there was no chance to put him through (90 minutes) – then maybe we make a draw but then we have a problem with Roberto.
“We don’t have the number of players in this moment currently of this quality so that was the reason and that’s why we said ‘okay he starts and then another player can come on’.
“In my opinion I would be risking the fitness or health of the player.
“It’s been too intense in the last few weeks for him, he’s the one who plays all the time, that was the reason for the change.”
The fact Klopp took Firmino off at the weekend suggests he’ll start tomorrow against the Premier League title favourites. The 25-year-old has made 27 appearances this campaign, more than any other Red, scoring nine goals in the process.
Sadio Mane is being flown back from the AFCON, so at some point, we may see our first-choice front-three of Mane, Firmino and Coutinho for the first time since the latter’s injury at the end of November.
That would be brilliant, as we desperately need to liven our attack after a miserable run of games since the turn of the calendar year.
Firmino shines centrally, and Mane’s return allow him to start in his best position.