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Pochettino to play youth in EFL Cup against Liverpool

Liverpool isn’t THAT much better than Gillingham, right?

Tottenham Hotspur v Gillingham - EFL Cup Third Round Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images

After a very solid performance against Gillingham in the EFL Cup, Mauricio Pochettino is set to reward Tottenham Hotspur’s young players... by sending them out again against Liverpool at Anfield in the next round.

Pochettino said in comments reported by ESPN that the Liverpool match on October 25 will be another opportunity for young players like Harry Winks, Cameron Carter-Vickers, Josh Onomah, and Marcus Edwards to get valuable playing experience against what is expected to be a strong Liverpool side.

"For me, they are not kids or boys -- they are players, [who can] show and prove that they can compete and have the quality to stay in the first team. It is the same to play against Gillingham at White Hart Lane and against Liverpool at Anfield.

"They need to show. We believe in them and if my team is the same as against Gillingham or some changes, they need to prove they have quality. You know, always the big, big players start their career and they need to make their debut sometimes in a difficult place like Anfield.

"We are involved in Champions League and they [the younger players] are not involved in European competition so it is a good opportunity for our players who do not play too much or the younger players to build their reputation and build their career and confidence for the future."

Spurs rolled out an extremely rotated side in their 5-0 win over Gillingham that included a pivot of Winks and Tom Carroll, Carter-Vickers and Kevin Wimmer in defense, and Onomah on the right wing. Before the match ended. GK N’Koudou, Anton Walkes, and Edwards had all made their first team debuts.

Liverpool will certainly be a sterner test than Gillingham: Jurgen Klopp’s team is not playing in European competition this year, which means they’re likely to field a much stronger side than perhaps they might otherwise. Spurs, by contrast, will be coming off of a week where they play three away matches against West Brom, Bayer Leverkusen, and Bournemouth, and host Leicester and Bayer the week after this match. Rotation is not only expected, it’s necessary.

Moreover, this gives you a pretty strong indication of where the EFL Cup lies in Pochettino’s hierarchy of competitions this season: i.e. not very high. And that’s fine. Tottenham have a great deal of young talent at the bottom of its hierarchy, but they’ll never improve if they don’t play. A trip to Anfield against what could be a first choice Liverpool would certainly give them a good opportunity to see if they have what it takes to hang with the big boys.