THE mood might be a touch gloomy at Melwood at the moment, but The Academy at Kirkby is anything but.
Liverpool under 23s find themselves five points clear at the top of the table, while Steven Gerrard’s under 18s are unbeaten in the league this season.
Two of the current stars of The Academy have had notable weeks for different reasons, and in different parts of the world. Over in India, Rhian Brewster finds himself in a World Cup final after scoring two hat tricks in the tournament so far. Closer to home, Ben Woodburn has marked his 18th birthday by signing a new five-year contract.
Speaking to The Anfield Wrap yesterday, under-23s’ manager Neil Critchley reflected on an “unbelievable last few days” for Brewster, detailing how the squad had all watched the quarter final together at Melwood to support the player.
He was also delighted with the Woodburn news, not least because it shows some of the brightest young talent in world football believe the next stage of their development is best served at Liverpool.
“The whole academy were buzzing after Rhian Brewster’s hat-trick.” 🔥
— The Anfield Wrap (@TheAnfieldWrap) 26 October 2017
Glenn Price and John Gibbons discussed the young lads’ progress on our weekly Wrap Up video. To see more of that, take a look at our YouTube channel.
“Similar to Rhian he has burst onto the international scene. He’s a young player with huge potential. But you can see he’s so unassuming, he’s slightly embarrassed by all the attention. He just wants to go about doing the thing he loves, which is playing for this football club,” Critchley said.
“He’s another great boy, from a great family. He will know that the club has shown great faith in him. But he’s got the drive in him. They’ve got something inside them, these boys. Rhian and Ben are very similar. They keep it very well hidden, but they have got intrinsic drive, and [Ben] will want to play in our first team, and part of him will expect to play in our first team as well.”
The rapid development of both players inevitably lead to questions in Jürgen Klopp’s pre-Huddersfield press conference about how much we will see them at Anfield this season. It is often said that when a team is struggling is the worst time to put a young player in, due to the added pressure. However, Critchley revealed that this is not the case at Liverpool.
“It is not something we think about. We just want players to play in our (first) team. If they are good enough, the manager will pick them. You’ve seen that. He played Trent at Old Trafford last year, in a big game. He won’t hesitate to put them in.
“So whether (Liverpool) are eighth, or 10 points clear, I think the manager has proven that he will put them in in any game. If he think they are ready, he puts them in. So we’ve just got to provide players that he thinks are good enough to play, regardless of competitions we are in, or where we are in the league. That’s our job.”
Liverpool under 23s’ next home game is against Leicester City on Sunday at Prenton Park, Tranmere. Kick off is at 1pm.