Tuesday’s EFL clash against Tottenham will potentially give fans who haven’t been following the reserves a chance to view the progress of some of the most promising academy prospects. With Spurs boss, Mauricio Pochettino set to heavily rotate his side as the Londoners with an eye towards European obligations, Jürgen Klopp appears interested in following suit, even if only just to give his hard-working gegenpressing squad a rest and a chance for some of these highly-touted youngsters to get a run out with the first team.
With the likes of Kevin Stewart, Ben Woodburn and Trent Alexander-Arnold in line to receive new deals, the trio along with the exciting Ovie Ejaira, reserves captain, Harry Wilson in sensational form and the quickly-recovering Danny Ings will all be making their case for a spot on the team sheet as they look to impress the boss.
Klopp, for one, has voiced his pleasure the progress shown at the academy, “I think there’s a lot to say about a few of our young players,” he said in comments to reporters.
“The problem is that it’s not for public [discussion] because they are still young and they are really in a good way. That is why they are completely involved in the training sessions and everything we are doing.
“We are really happy about the situation. One of the reasons why it is so easy for them to use the situation of training with world-class players and improving every day is because they don’t have to think about anything else. We try to keep this situation as long as possible.”
Michael Beale’s U-23 side have mirrored the first team’s fast start to the season, sitting third in the new Premier League 2 table, and like the seniors, leading the league in goals scored, hinting at signs that the Klopp philosophy is being well taught and adopted by the youngsters. It almost invites the question of how far afield the German truly needs to look to bolster the ranks in future transfer windows.
“Of course it’s cool if we have 10 players from the Academy and we make no signing in the transfer window,” Klopp went on to say.
“I would love to be part of the press conference when I say this! ‘No signings this year’. Then it would be: ‘But we need this, this, this and this’. I’d say: ‘But we have already’ and nobody would believe me. Once a year I have to listen to all the questions: ‘Is he really in a position to play in the first team?’ It makes it easier but it’s only a thing we have to do. It’s kind of an agreement.”
One glaring omission from the happy news is the continuingly curious case of Mamadou Sakho. With Ings, Ejaria, Alexander-Arnold, Stewart and Mark Grujic all withdrawn from U-23 duty in the 2-0 win over their Everton counterparts at the weekend with an eye for inclusion Tuesday night, the troubled center back was not a part of them, instead playing the full 90 minutes with the reserves.
In responding to questions on Monday from a French reporter at Melwood, Klopp, maybe tellingly, refused to comment on Sakho’s chances of making it back into the first team: “I hope you didn’t make the long journey here for this question because the answer is I’ve said everything about this already. You could have read it in English newspapers. I’ve said everything about this in my talk with Mama. There is nothing else to say about it.
“Maybe it’s my English, you can try again but the answer is the same. There is nothing to say.”
Worrying signs for supporters of the fan favorite, the only blemish in an otherwise excellent Liverpool news week to date full of Red wins and Red Devil spankings.