Salah a doubt for Cup final as Liverpool injuries pile up

Lijnders: Liverpool need their full toolbox to defend Chelsea (1:07)

Pepijn Lijnders gives an update on Liverpool's injuries ahead of the Carabao Cup final against Chelsea. (1:07)

Liverpool assistant manager Pep Lijnders has said he is hopeful Mohamed Salah will be fit for Sunday's Carabao Cup final against Chelsea, but said his participation remains in doubt.

Both Salah and Darwin Núñez missed Wednesday's match against Luton Town after featuring for Liverpool at Brentford last weekend.

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"Dominik [Szoboszlai], Darwin and [Salah], we really have to see. We have two more days," Lijnders told a news conference Friday. "Then we will check if they can be there. It would be great to be honest."

Salah, who had been out for a month with a hamstring injury sustained at the African Cup of Nations, scored in his comeback as a substitute at Brentford on Saturday before missing the match vs. Luton Town.

Ljinders confirmed the absences of Curtis Jones, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Alisson and Diogo Jota for Sunday's final but threw his backing behind the club's academy players to step up in their place.

"It's also good in life to accept what you have, so that is what we're trying to do. It brought us success in the past and we try to keep it," Ljinders said.

"We have a few injuries so we get young players, players who didn't play five in a row but they can show up and that is really cool. This season is a season we already created new teams, it's a compliment to our squad and our academy."

Academy graduates Caoimhin Kelleher, Jarell Quansah and Conor Bradley, who all started in Liverpool's win over Luton Town on Wednesday, have played key-roles for Liverpool this season. The win over Luton also saw academy-players Bobby Clark, Jayden Danns and James McConnell come off the bench.

Goalkeeper Kelleher has emerged as an able deputy to Alisson and on Sunday is set to feature in his second Carabao Cup final for the club.

"I'm really pleased for him. At Liverpool you need two good goalkeepers and we have that. It is special and a huge compliment to the goalkeeping department," Ljinders said.

"He is a complete goalkeeper. He can make match-winning saves and he sees the game, knows when to play with direction and he is calm, that serenity creates calmness for the others. Especially the way we want to play. It's important to have a goalkeeper like that."

Meanwhile, Chelsea boss Mauricio Pochettino has refuted Jurgen Klopp's comments that Liverpool are not favourites going into the final.

"Of course, if they are not the favourites, we are not the favourites, if he said that" Pochettino told a news conference later on Friday.

"For me, Liverpool are the favourites because after the last few years, they have the experience to competing like a team and be involved in different finals.

"For many of our players, it is not only new in this competition and for some of them maybe their first final. That is why I have them [as] favourites. But he is clever to say 50-50. Liverpool are favourites and he knows it is like this.

Chelsea were thrashed 4-1 by Liverpool in January, but Pochettino believes they have emerged a better side from that experience.

"After [the] Liverpool [game], it was completely unfair the result because I think if you watch again the game, a few penalties, the penalty after five minutes was given I think it maybe changed completely the game," Pochettino said.

"But maybe it was good for is to feel the pain, a negative situation against us, to be stronger now, to find the way to compete better and to start to see that we need to live in a different way, the spirit of the team."

Information from James Olley and Reuters contributed to this report