Creative midfielder Leighton Clarkson is one of the golden crop of youngsters coming through the Liverpool youth ranks at the minute, and it’s clear that manager Jürgen Klopp thinks highly of the player.
Clarkson has been picked to feature on the bench in Liverpool’s last two fixtures against Leicester City and Atalanta. While he didn’t get onto the pitch in either game, it was the first time he had been picked in the Premier League and Champions League match day squads.
The 19-year-old made his Liverpool debut in December 2019 as he came on off the bench in a League Cup game against Aston Villa, before making his second appearance in the FA cup Fourth Round replay against Shrewsbury Town, meaning he was a part of the youngest winning Liverpool team in history.
Clarkson joined the Liverpool academy at a very young age before signing a long-term contract in July 2020 and is currently a regular in the u23 side.
So far this season, he has made seven appearances – four in Premier League 2 and three in the EFL Trophy.
In those seven games he has contributed two goals and two assists, meaning he is currently contributing a goal contribution every 150 minutes for the u23 side. A better rate than any of Liverpool’s senior midfield options.Embed from Getty Images
Just like teammate Paul Glatzel, Clarkson was part of the side which won the FA Youth Cup back in 2018/19 – a victory which led to him receiving his first professional deal with the Reds.
In an interview with Liverpoolfc.com, Clarkson admitted that he loves training with the first team and that he did do some training one-on-one with club legend Steven Gerrard.
“It was me, Adam (Lewis) and Gerrard. We were just hitting free-kicks after sessions and stuff. Ever since that moment, I’ve always thought in my head after my sessions, ‘try to get 10, 20 minutes just hitting free-kicks’.”
It is this kind of commitment which means Clarkson continues to get noticed at the highest levels of the club. First-team assistant manager Pep Lijnders described the midfielder as “the kind of No.6 we really like”.
This bodes well for the youngster, who is currently looking to emulate the success of academy graduates Curtis Jones and Neco Williams this season.Embed from Getty Images
If he continues to develop under Barry Lewtas in the u23 then it is likely Clarkson will receive more exposure to the first team – on the training ground and, perhaps, as part of the first team in official competition too.
With the relentless fixture schedule due to the COVID-19 pandemic and recent first team injury woes, it is possible that we could see Clarkson make his first team debut over the coming weeks – especially what could be a busier-than-ever festive period.
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