MICHAEL Beale says that recent first team debutant Ovie Ejaria is a symbol to all of the academy where hard work, skill and taking your chance can get you — in spite of any setbacks, or even being released, as a young player.
Speaking to The Anfield Wrap ahead of a big week for the Under-23s, Beale said on Ejaria: “His technical ability is the thing that has enabled him to get to the first team. He’s a boy that has spent most of his life and childhood with a ball, not just his time here, so a massive amount of praise goes to Ovie in terms of the number of hours he has put in honing his technique.
Beale also spoke about the impact being in and around the first team, and working directly with Jürgen Klopp, has had on Ejaria and some of the other youngsters at the club.
“I think being around the first team has shown his thirst for learning, he’s taken on what the manager wants and I think that’s what’s opened the door for him. I think that is a key message for all the players,” he added.
“I think it is nice for all the academy staff to see the work we have all done with a couple of players. Kevin [Stewart] is a boy that was let go by another Premier League club that we have been able to remodel in a different position and he has played in our first team.
“That’s the same with Ovie, and that’s not an easy task. It doesn’t happen too often, so I think the staff here have done a fantastic job with those players. But I also think that the manager taking them for a number of weeks enables a boy to settle into the training and to feel a part of it.
“You imagine if it was one of us, you go in on your first day and all of a sudden you are training next to one of the senior first team players, it takes a little bit of time to stop being starstruck. These young boys are only human, these are their idols. The longer they stay in and around it the more comfortable they get. Not a lot of managers will do that, and I think we also need to recognise that we’ve got a good manager for these players.
“He’ll feel the trust of the manager now. And once you’ve got the trust of Jürgen Klopp, of course you are going to feel 10 feet tall. Then everything is achievable, and that’s not just the case of Ovie, it’s been the case for quite a few in the past year now.”
The Under-23 side are currently in fine form in the Premier League 2, following up a 4-0 home victory with a 6-2 win away at Tottenham Hotspur. This Sunday they face Sunderland at Prenton Park and Beale encourages all Liverpool fans in the area to get down and see the young stars on the edge of the first team.
“We got our biggest crowd against Leicester and you could hear the cheers from the stands which is a big boost for the players, that’s where the players want to be and play.
“It’s an exciting group at the moment. There aren’t many Under-23 games when you haven’t got a few players in the team who you think could be potential players for the first team. Whether that be [Ben] Woodburn, or [Harry] Wilson, or Toni Gomes or one of the players who are dropping out down like Trent [Alexander-Arnold], [Connor] Randall or Stewart. It’s a great chance to see these boys in the flesh, before they maybe kick on to the next level.
“I certainly wouldn’t change my position for any other Under-23 coach at the moment.”
Liverpool play Sunderland on Sunday 25th September at 1pm and Wolfsburg on Wednesday 28th September at 7pm, with both games at Prenton Park — the home of Tranmere Rovers.
Admission on the gate is £4 for adults and £1 for children and concessions.
Members and season ticket holders can gain admission free of charge.