It was a banner year for youngsters at Liverpool, with Raheem Sterling, Suso, and Andre Wisdom featuring early and often in the season, and debut appearances on tap at various points throughout for Jerome Sinclair, Conor Coady, and Jordon Ibe. Defender Lloyd Jones also found himself included in the matchday squad for the trip to Fulham, and while he didn't manage to make it off the bench, he's hopeful that a solid season in the youth ranks and the time spent with the senior squad will lead to greater rewards down the road.
"This season has gone really well for me and it has been a great learning curve for me. It was a massive experience for me to be involved in the first team and I really, really enjoyed it and I learnt a lot. It has definitely made me hungry to play for the first team and hopefully I can do that in the future.
"I know I am a long way off from becoming the finished article. I am at the first stage of my career and I am determined to work hard to become the best I can. I am going to work hard this summer. I had some time off, but now I just want to get back into it. Hopefully I can impress in training when we go back and if I get the chance in a match then hopefully I can impress."
The timing lines up well for Jones and the others mentioned above; not all will make the trip to Australia, Indonesia, and Thailand, but there'll be opportunities for all throughout a fairly crowded preseason schedule. Whether or not they'll make the leap from the preseason squad to the regular season setup won't be clear until the summer transfers are over, especially for players like Jones, who find themselves part of a defensive unit that, at worst, is going to remain fairly crowded.
Both Wisdom and Martin Kelly could spend time in central defense over the coming year, Martin Skrtel and Sebastian Coates might yet stick around, and even if neither do, moves for Kyriakos Papadopoulos and Tiago Ilori have been rumored to be on the horizon. It doesn't mean young defenders won't find a way through, just that, as Jones mentions, the distance between featuring once in a matchday squad and having a regular role in the first eleven is awfully long.
At 17 Jones has the luxury of time and learning, and he'll hopefully continue to grow over the next few seasons. To have names brought into the club is nice, but there's something special about bringing players along from the academy to the first team, and Jones looks as likely as any at the back to come along and be successful.