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Liverpool’s Klopp backs five subs for EPL

Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp has reiterated the need for five substitutions in the English Premier League to protect players amid a demanding schedule and rising COVID-19 cases.

But Klopp has conceded he did not see all clubs agreeing to make a change.

Top flight leagues in Europe adopted the rule to increase the number of substitutions per game to five to ease the workload on players amid the COVID-19 pandemic but Premier League clubs voted against the motion.

Fifteen Premier League games have already been postponed this month due to coronavirus outbreaks leading to a fixture pile-up, while a lack of available players has forced those who recovered from COVID-19 to play more minutes.

The Premier League had a record 103 COVID-19 cases in the past week.

“You need 14 votes to change it — there’s something wrong. As an example, I’m not sure how many Burnley players play international football. When our players have three games, they have no game,” Klopp told reporters on Monday.

“We are talking about an issue that some clubs and some players definitely have but it’s decided by other teams. Because we make a competition of it, they say no. That’s a real problem.

“The best league in the world, the most intense league in the world, is the only league with still three subs.

“That’s not right, we should change it (but) I don’t see a real chance to change it, to be honest.”

Brentford manager Thomas Frank also called for the introduction of five substitutions.

“I completely agree that we need five subs. I know I’m (part of) one of the clubs with the lowest budget and probably the thinnest squad, but I still think that will help all of us,” Frank said.

Watford manager Claudio Ranieri said on Monday he had his first “normal training session” since December 10 and agreed five substitutions was the “right solution”.

“In Italy I was the first to speak about five changes because it’s very important you don’t push the players’ fitness too much,” Ranieri said.

“If they don’t train and then they have to play – we are playing now every three days – how is it possible to keep players on the pitch for 90 minutes and I can change only three players?”

Both Manchester United interim manager Ralf Rangnick and Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola called for five substitutions last week.

However, Tottenham Hotspur manager Antonio Conte said airing their views in a meeting with the league last week was like talking to a wall.

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