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  • Give us a break

Jurgen Klopp – and his first team squad – won’t be turning up for Liverpool’s FA Cup fourth round replay against Shrewsbury on February 4, due to a winter break.

“In April 2019 we got a letter from the Premier League, I think, where they asked us to respect the winter break and not to organise international friendlies or competitive games. We respect that,” said Klopp, after Liverpool’s 2-2 draw against the Shrews on January 26.

“The Premier League asked us to respect the winter break. That’s what we do. If the FA doesn’t respect that, then we cannot change it,” said Klopp.

Klopp said Liverpool u-23 manager Neil Critchley will be in charge for the replay: “We will not be there,” said Anfield gaffer Klopp.

Liverpool were caught up in a similar situation in the EFL Cup against Aston Villa, when Critchley took charge, due to the first team playing in the Club World Cup in Qatar.

A statement from the Football Association said: “The FA went to great lengths to create an annual mid-season player break, working closely with the Premier League and its clubs.

“It is a new and significant addition to the English football calendar and is designed to benefit clubs and their players.

“To accommodate the annual mid-season player break, the FA rescheduled the Emirates FA Cup fifth round to midweek and removed fifth-round replays from the calendar.

“This allowed the Premier League room in its calendar to have a split round of fixtures over two weekends.

“Prior to start of the 2019-20 season, all clubs accepted that Emirates FA Cup fourth-round replays, where required, would have to take place during the first week of the mid-season player break.

“This will only affect a small number of clubs, due to the split of Premier League fixtures in the mid-season player break.”

In Liverpool’s case they are now set to get a 10-day break, between the FA Cup fourth round replay Shrewsbury game on February 4, and their next league fixture on February 15.

If Klopp carries out his stance and rests first-team players, the break extends to 13 days.

Southampton have the shortest break, in terms of football free days, nine, between their scheduled FA Cup fourth round replay against Spurs on February 5, and their Premier League game on February 15.

In contrast Chelsea and Manchester United have the longest breaks – 15 days each.

The 2019-20 Premier League winter break comes into play, splitting one game-week across two weekends on February 8 and February 15. Five games will be played on Saturday, February 8 and the remaining five games will be played on Saturday, February 15.

The Scottish Professional Football League sees the SPL have a winter break, during December 30-January 17.

Managers have campaigned for a winter break, as by all other major European leagues.

The break will benefit players for the second half of the season, especially clubs in the Champions League and Europa League, mirroring Italy and Spain, ahead of Euro 2020, giving the national side a better chance of success.

Having put a winter break in place, then to implement an FA Cup replay in the break, is an own goal by the FA.

In a nutshell, teams are not on a level playing field, a concept about fairness.

Not that a player has an equal chance to succeed – but that they all play by the same set of rules.

As for the controversial VAR implemented this season – only in certain competitions and leagues – that’s a whole new ball game!