The kids are alright – but are any of them ready for Liverpool action?

Liverpool have an array of talented youngsters reaching an age where they can be considered for promotion to the first team. DANIEL MOXON wonders whether a side which is challenging for domestic and European titles has the room to give them the chances they need.

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It was a pre-season friendly, of course, the result of which meant far less than the fitness gains for each player who took part in it.

Yet, for all their efforts, Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mané, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and a host of other senior players could not find a way through a stubborn Mainz side.

Instead, it was Owen Beck’s marauding run and drilled delivery which forced the own-goal which eventually split the two sides on a warm summer’s evening in Austria.


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He turns 19 next month, after turning a few heads towards the tail end of last season due to his strong performances in the youth ranks at Kirkby.

Beck’s talent and hunger is obvious, but he remains a long way behind first-choice Andy Robertson in the pecking order. Kostas Tsimikas would be his first target, thought the Greek is out to prove himself a reliable option after a frustrating, injury-hit first season on Merseyside.

It’s a similar story wherever you look. This generation of young Liverpool stars looks to be one of the strongest to emerge from the academy since the days of Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher.

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Trent Alexander-Arnold has been established for a few years now, and Curtis Jones is well on his way to being a regular in the first team if he can continue his development.

Meanwhile, Harvey Elliott looks to be next on the list after a superb loan spell in the Championship with Blackburn Rovers. He will likely have a part to play this season, especially with the African Cup of Nations set to deprive the Reds of Salah and Mané for up to a month in early 2022.

And there is a whole host of young, hungry stars of the future hoping to be next on the list. Leighton Clarkson and Jake Cain have already had brief tastes of first-team action, while the likes of James Balagizi, Kaide Gordon and Mateusz Musialowski have all caught the eye at youth level.

Ahead of them all on the list seems to be Conor Bradley. The man from Northern Ireland, who turned 18 less than a month ago, is supposedly in Jürgen Klopp’s plans after impressing in Barry Lewtas’ u23 side.

Along with Joe Gomez he is set to play a backup role to Trent Alexander-Arnold – leapfrogging Neco Williams who looks set to depart either on a loan move or permanently in the search for first-team football.

League Cup games aside – Klopp has shown a preference for playing youngsters in this competition in the last few years – Bradley looks to be the only one likely to join Elliott in a semi-regular role in and around the first team.

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Beck has impressed but both Robertson and Tsimikas would likely need to be out of the equation at the same time for him to be considered – even then, the ever-reliable James Milner would probably be called in to cover, as he has done so admirably before.

And the road looks similarly difficult for all the talented young midfield players. The likes of Clarkson, Cain and Balagizi have Jordan Henderson, Fabinho, Thiago, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Naby Keïta, Milner and Jones ahead of them.

If Xherdan Shaqiri doesn’t depart this summer, that’s another option ahead of them, and it’s not inconceivable another midfield option may be brought in before the end of the transfer window using cash raised from the sales of Taiwo Awoniyi, Marko Grujic and Harry Wilson.

Musialowski signed his first professional deal in Austria, but has been absent from their pre-season outings so far. It’s an opportunity missed as he’s yet to have a chance to show what he can do among the first team.

He may still get his chance this season. Divock Origi could well be on his way out of the club and, with both Salah and Mané set to be absent at the same time in January, attacking options will be limited for up to a month. That might be the opportunity he or another youngster needs to push for a more regular role in the senior side.

Liverpool have an extraordinary amount of talent coming through from the youth ranks. Some will be sold on for profit, and one or two might even go on to become a first team regular at Anfield.

The coaches’ job is to ensure those who do have a higher ceiling are primed and ready to take their shot when it comes.


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