By Scott Mason – @ScottMason00
Liverpool will begin their pre-season on July 11th against Merseyside rivals Tranmere Rovers.
With many first team stars still away due to international duty like Alisson, Roberto Firmino, Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mané it is the perfect opportunity for youth stars and fringe players to impress the gaffer and potentially make their way into his plans for the upcoming season.
So here are five players who have a point to prove in the upcoming pre-season fixtures:
While the versatile midfielder may already be in Jurgen Klopp’s plans, he does need to show skeptical fans that he is still a good midfield option for the Reds.
During Klopp’s first season in charge, he was one of Liverpool’s most important players. But since the 2016/17 season the English man has been plagued by injuries and hasn’t regained the form of his impressive season that helped Liverpool return to the Champions League.
The No.20 has not been a reliable option for the last two seasons which has caused fans to question whether the former Southampton man should be sold.
Pre-season is the perfect time for the 31-year-old to prove to the fans that he still has what it takes to remain at Anfield – it will take more than a couple of fancy Cruyff Turns.
Liverpool are in a situation where they seem to not know whether to cash in on the 22-year-old or to keep him at Anfield for the upcoming season.
The Welsh winger is yet to play a professional game for the Reds but did impress throughout his loan spell at Derby County.
Wilson managed to score 18 goals in all competitions for the Rams, which included an incredible free kick against Manchester United where the winger then paid tribute to his parent club by holding up five fingers referencing “five times”. Although, for the next time he might need to use two hands…
With both first-choice wingers away on international duty, Harry Wilson needs to step up and stake a claim that he is good enough to play for the European Champions.
If Wilson can produce the same form, he showed under Frank Lampard then Liverpool have a fantastic player on their hands who could provide depth for both Salah and Mané.
If the Liverpool youth product doesn’t impress Klopp throughout pre-season, he is in danger of potentially being sold.
After less than a year with the Liverpool youth setup, Hoever managed to impress Jurgen Klopp so much he was named on the bench for the Red’s FA Cup fixture against Wolves. After an injury to Dejan Lovren early in the match the young Dutchman was given his debut.
Despite only being 16 at the time, the youngster was extremely confident on the ball. Hoever completed 87% of his passes and won 2/2 tackles while – like his Dutch counterpart Virgil van Dijk – he wasn’t dribbled past.
Ki-Jana Hoever’s debut however was just a matter of good fortune. Jurgen Klopp admitted that the then 16-year-old was only called up due to injuries to Gomez and Matip, but Hoever’s ability impressed the boss enough for him to keep him around.
At just 17 years of age, the Ajax youth product has plenty of time to make his way into the Liverpool first team. However, if he wants to remain in Klopp’s set up for the 2019/20 season he will need to prove his worth in pre-season.
His path has been made harder by the acquisition of Sepp van den Berg, who has reportedly been signed for Jurgen Klopp’s squad and not the youth setup.
We heard so much about Rhian Brewster towards the end of the 2018/19 season and most fans will be looking forward to seeing what all the talk has been about.
Brewster spent much of the previous season recovering from injury. Jurgen Klopp seems to be a big fan, saying he will play an important role in the upcoming season.
The 19-year-old has a point to prove to both the boss and the fans as he looks to show why there has been so much talk surrounding his name – and not just because he got a haircut wearing his Champions League Winners medal.
Brewster is a calm and composed finisher inside the box and his U17 World Cup Golden Boot is there to prove it. Hopefully he can show the same form he had displayed for the youth teams throughout pre-season.
With the departure of Alberto Moreno, Liverpool are lacking depth in the left-back area. Adam Lewis is a player who could potentially be Andy Robertson’s deputy in for the 2018/19 season.
If Lewis is included the pre-season squad, it would be the perfect opportunity for the Englishman to break into the first team.
He does, however, face competition from other youth players for that left-back role including Yasser Larouci and Anderson Arroyo, although the latter is unlikely to be granted a work permit for the season ahead and will be sent on loan.
Lewis is a leader on the pitch and captained the U18’s before being called up to Neil Critchley’s U23 squad. The Liverpool-born defender played 21 times in Premier League 2, scoring once and assisting four other goals.
With the success of Trent Alexander Arnold on the right-hand side it would certainly be worth a punt on giving another Scouse full-back a chance at the first team. Hopefully, if Klopp includes Lewis in his squad for the upcoming friendlies, he can show the German he is ready for the step up to the first team.