Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge was unable to take a penalty in the shoot-out against Manchester City due to cramping up at the end of the Capital One Cup final defeat at Wembley. The Reds had three of their four spot kicks saved by Willy Caballero as Manuel Pellegrini's side prevailed and supporters questioned the selection of the penalty takers.
Lucas Leiva, Philippe Coutinho and Adam Lallana all failed to find the net, while the likes of Jordan Henderson and James Milner – who have previously netted from the spot for the Merseysiders – did not step up to the challenge. Captain Henderson scored against Arsenal in April 2015 while Milner has already been successful five times since moving to Anfield, including twice in shoot-outs in the League Cup, the last coming in the mid-week Europa League win over Augsberg.
Another trusted player from the spot is Sturridge, who started the showcase final – playing a full 90 minutes for just the second time since returning from injury – before staying on throughout the extra-time period. That huge physical exertion ensured he was unable to take a penalty for Liverpool according to Klopp, who worryingly said the player was suffering from cramps.
"There was no chance for Daniel, he had cramps for the last few minutes," said the Liverpool boss, whose side take on Manchester City again on Wednesday [2 March], according to the Liverpool Echo. "Everybody who was available took a penalty. We asked the players and these five players said 'yes'."
The news is a concern for Liverpool given Sturridge's history with injury and the problems the club have faced returning him to full fitness. After welcoming City this week, the trip to Crystal Palace comes before the Europa League last 16 double-header against Manchester United. Mamadou Sakho is also an injury concern for the upcoming schedule after he went off after just 24 minutes with a concussion after a nasty clash with team-mate Emre Can.
Fans were not alone in slamming Liverpool's choice of penalty-takers, with former defender Jamie Carragher questioning Sturridge's physical state and the order which the players were chosen to take their spot-kicks. "He [Sturridge] looks upset," Carragher told Sky Sports, according to The Daily Mail. "He had cramps towards the end but unless he has an injury I don't see why he hasn't taken a penalty.
"I may be wrong, I don't know about going top heavy - I don't know why Lucas has taken the second penalty. Maybe it goes in order but sometimes you may not even get to the fifth penalty. You want your best penalty takers first, there's no guarantee that everyone is going to score."