The ‘new Robbie Fowler’, a left back who has caught Carragher’s eye, the mates in midfield that have impressed Klopp and the German striker on the comeback trail… who are the Kop kids who could follow Curtis Jones and break into Liverpool’s team in 2021?
- Liverpool’s youngsters have all played a vital role for the club in recent weeks
- Curtis Jones has cemented a first-team place after a number of midfield injuries
- Rhys Williams, Neco Williams and Caoimhin Kelleher have also made the step up
- So who are the next Kop Kids looking to follow their lead as we head into 2021?
With the senior Liverpool side making the move from their Melwood training base to Kirkby this season, the journey for the youngsters eyeing a place in Jurgen Klopp’s squad is, at least in terms of distance, a little bit shorter.
Klopp has never been afraid of throwing youth players in at the deep end at Liverpool. Trent Alexander-Arnold is the ultimate embodiment of that, but this season as has been the greatest example of his faith in youth.
The emergence of Curtis Jones, alongside valiant displays from players such as Caoimhin Kelleher, Rhys Williams and Neco Williams will be of huge encouragement.
So who are the players that could follow their lead and be handed a baptism of fire in 2021? Sportsmail takes a closer look…
The form of Curtis Jones has been a major plus point for Liverpool so far across this season
The diminutive, stocky midfielder will be pushing to start the new year in a similar vein to how he finished the last.
Clarkson, a 19-year-old midfielder, made his Champions League debut away to Midtjylland and fitted in seamlessly against the Danish outfit.
The game finished 1-1, with a heavily rotated Liverpool under siege for much of the second half but Clarkson impressed in a similar role to Fabinho’s midfield position of dismantling opposition play.
‘First half, I thought I was better because we were playing more football and I thought I was making a few decent passes,’ Clarkson said. ‘Then in the second we weren’t really at it. That’s something to work towards with the games coming up.’
There is more to come from Leighton Clarkson, who impressed on Champions League debut
Another midfielder and a close friend of Clarkson’s, Jake Cain has been training with the first-team squad for a while now and was unfortunate not to make his Champions League bow alongside his mate in Denmark.
But it seems his chance won’t be too far away. The left-footed 19-year-old made his bow in the FA Cup last year when Klopp fielded a team of youngsters in the 1-0 win over Shrewsbury in the fourth round of the FA Cup and has been an unused substitute on occasions in the Champions League this season.
This time around, he’ll no doubt be eyeing the FA Cup tie on January 8 against Aston Villa to make his first first-team appearance of the 2020-21 season.
Midfielder Jake Cain has been training at Melwood alongside stars such as Jordan Henderson
Injuries have hampered striker Glatzel’s route to the first team but he is definitely not too far from Klopp’s thinking. At present, he is sidelined with an ankle ligament injury that means he won’t play again for a while – his current time out on the sidelines is unknown.
In 2018-19, Glatzel hammered home 28 goals in a brilliant partnership alongside Bobby Duncan but the following season, injured his ACL in a first-team friendly against Tranmere and missed the majority of the 2019-20 campaign.
‘He is a wonderful kid, a wonderful player, unbelievable,’ Klopp said of Glatzel, born in Liverpool but who is of dual heritage as both his parents are German. ‘When he is back he will be one of my boys because I really like what I saw.’
He returned with a bang earlier this month, scoring for Liverpool’s Under 23 team in a 4-2 win over West Ham. At 19, time is on Glatzel’s side and he signed a long-term contract with Liverpool in September 2019, while he was injured.
Paul Glatzel pictured competing with Arsenal defender William Saliba back on October
For Norris, last season’s Covid-19 impacted campaign will be of particular frustration.
The left back was expected to play for England Under 17s at the European Championships last summer but the tournament was called of due to the coronavirus outbreak.
The 17-year-old featured in the 5-0 defeat by Aston Villa in the EFL Cup last season as the senior squad competed in the Club World Cup, while his displays in the Under 18 set-up have caught the eye of none other than Jamie Carragher.
‘I know Liverpool rate him really highly,’ Carragher said. ‘While it’s difficult to break into one of the best teams in the world, I think there are some talents in there who will make a name for themselves.’
Left back James Norris has caught the eye of none other than Liverpool hero Jamie Carragher
Another player mentioned in the same breathe as Norris is Layton Stewart, who has been scoring on a relentless basis for the Under 18s.
‘He can be anything he wants to be,’ Alex Ingelthorpe, Liverpool’s academy director told Goal earlier this year of the striker who is a lifelong Liverpudlian.
He has already caught the eye of the keenest Liverpool fans who watch the youth games for a glimpse of tomorrow’s stars. There is a highlight reel of his games on Youtube titled ‘Liverpool’s new Robbie Fowler’ – formidable praise indeed.
At 18, there is a long path ahead before Stewart is threatening to dislodge any of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane or Diogo Jota but it he keeps on scoring, the journey will keep on shortening for him.
‘I like being within the goalframe,’ he told LFCTV earlier this year. ‘My main attribute is running forward, getting in behind defenders.’
Layton Stewart (centre) has drawn comparisons to iconic Liverpool striker Robbie Fowler
Another midfielder, Hill penned a new long-term contract with Liverpool back in October. Unfortunately, the terms were signed just a month after an ACL injury that was similar to Virgil van Dijk.
So like Glatzel, he is hitting the comeback trail but he is certainly one of the more higher rated youngsters at Liverpool and was another to feature in the League Cup against Villa last season.
He has been on Liverpool’s books since Under six level and once he is back fit, will be looking to join the likes of Cain and Clarkson in knocking on the door of the first team.
Midfielder Tom Hill signed a new long-term deal but is currently sidelined with a knee injury
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