Liverpool U23s manager Neil Critchley expects midfielder Ovie Ejaria to leave the club on loan in order to gain valuable first-team experience.
Ejaria was a regular part of Jurgen Klopp‘s plans last season, named in the Reds’ matchday squad on 16 occasions, making five starts and three substitute appearances.
But this term the England youth international has been restricted to academy football, though he has still trained as part of the senior squad.
He has made eight outings for the U23s across Premier League 2, the Premier League Cup and the Lancashire Senior Cup, scoring his first goal of the season in Monday’s 3-1 win at Man United.
And speaking this week, Critchley suggested Ejaria will head out on loan as he bids to catch Klopp’s eye.
“The management and first-team staff know Ovie has got a lot of potential and that’s why he has played for the first team and he’s been in and around it,” he said.
“We want him to get there on a permanent basis. It might take him a little bit of time and his pathway might be he goes on loan at some point as well to gain some experience.
“But I’m sure further down the line that opportunity will arise for him.
“Maybe then he will be a bit more streetwise, a bit tougher and he’s ready to take that opportunity. Ovie is a player who benefits from playing game after game.
“Most players feel like that as well and we are just trying to provide a platform for Ovie and challenge him to produce more, because there’s no doubting the boy’s ability.”
Ejaria, who turns 20 in November, is a young midfielder with considerable potential, with his dribbling ability and eye for pass key to his quality in the middle of the park.
While he is a looming physical presence, and it is difficult to wrestle possession from him, it is clear Critchley feels Ejaria needs to add aggression to his game.
The 39-year-old also suggested finding the back of the net on a more regular basis will naturally grab Klopp’s attention.
“Goals is something Ovie wants to add to his game so he has to put his talent into numbers in terms of goals and assists so he makes an impact on the game,” he added.
“You know when he is faced with a defender, one-v-one in the penalty area, you sort of feel sorry for the defender because you know there is only going to be one outcome.
“Ovie knows he has got to do a little bit more in terms of his assists and goals because it’s a way of getting noticed and getting yourself into the manager’s thoughts.”
The U23s play 10 more times before the January transfer window opens, including Sunday’s league clash at home to Leicester City.
This will likely be a pivotal run as Klopp and his backroom staff decide whether the likes of Ejaria and Harry Wilson stay on Merseyside or leave on loan.
The 19-year-old boasts outstanding innate ability and impressive game intelligence which enables him to play various central roles—deployable in a box-to-box position, as the primary attacking influence from the centre of the park or even as a powerful No. 10.
A tall, rangy figure, Ejaria’s physicality also stands out, which often saw the youngster dominate midfields at youth level, and his developing wiry frame points toward a driving force in the making.
This physical development will naturally aid Ejaria’s defensive contribution, which Beale noted has also developed, saying: “He has always been a lovely technical player but now he is much more mature in his decision making and in his application to his defensive duties.”
Technique combined with power and improved aggression makes him such a prospect, with the youngster capable of driving past opponents to inject tempo into final-third play, where he looks to contribute with clever passes around the box or surge inside for a shooting chance.