How Trent Alexander-Arnold’s love for Liverpool led to half-time hook in midweek

Jurgen Klopp claims that Trent Alexander-Arnold has become a victim of his own ­dedication to Liverpool .

Klopp’s “exceptional” young right-back ­only celebrated his 20th birthday last month, yet has appearances in the Champions League Final and the World Cup under his belt already in a meteoric start to his career.

But his levels have dropped in ­recent weeks, culminating in his substitution at half-time during the 2-0 defeat at Red Star Belgrade in midweek.

Alexander-Arnold had just two weeks’ holiday after returning from national duty with the Three Lions in Russia, where he featured in the group game against Belgium.

He was offered the option of an extra seven days off by Klopp, but chose instead to return to pre-season ­training early — and now he might be paying the price.

Klopp said: “Trent has played ­constantly. I have ­spoken to him about it – but not along the lines of ‘This is good, that isn’t.’ It’s more general ­advice.

“He is still a very young boy. He had two weeks off in the ­summer. That’s really not a lot.

“We constantly try to keep an eye on him and, fitness-wise, what he needs to do with the group. Actually, he’s in a good place at the moment. He has played a lot of football. He will play a lot of football – that’s the good news for him. It’s more important that he stays injury-free.

“What’s happening is fine and normal. These are usual things. It won’t be the first time or the last time in his life that everything isn’t 100%, but he’s still an outstanding player and really important to us.”

With Alexander-Arnold called up again to represent his country in the next fortnight, there aren’t too many opportunities for the Reds’ boss to rest the youngster. Involvement in the Champions League has only added to the defender’s workload.

Klopp revealed he was choosing from almost a fully-fit squad for the visit of bottom side Fulham on Sunday.

The German added: “Trent is ­important to the way we play. But we do have an option to change it. It’s good for us if we have a good ­number of players to work with. To be honest, I’ve been lucky. I’ve always worked with good right-backs. I had too many at Mainz. I had Lukasz Piszczek at Dortmund. He was fantastic. So, for Trent to be performing as he is at his age is quite exceptional.”

Klopp chose to sound a rallying call on the eve of the lunchtime kick-off, urging Liverpool supporters to “go to bed early” and wake up ready for the action.

The unbeaten start to the ­campaign has certainly raised ­expectations, and the Reds’ chief let his mask slip when quizzed about playing “non-stop ­champagne football”, in the pre-match press ­conference.

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He said: “We win a game and ­afterwards we have to apologise that we didn’t win it the City way.”

Klopp added: “Last ­season we were in the Champions League Final – and we were the better team for 25 minutes. OK, we didn’t win it. There is space for improvement.

“In the Premier League, to finish one, two or three, how can you ­improve? You improve consistency. We dropped unnecessary points last season. So far, we have 27 points. For me, that’s an outstanding number. But there is one team who has 29 and a goal difference of plus 47.

“If you win a game, you end up apologising for it. But I don’t want to make too much of it. It’s like this. We have had a good situation. We don’t want praise. I haven’t put any rockets up anyone this week. We have to enjoy our football. We have to build upon it.”

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