Liverpool Academy Update: July 31st Edition

Rossiter photo! - Laurence Griffiths

Your weekly Liverpool youth news & notes and discussion thread, including the U21s concluding their Irish pre-season tour and the U17s and U15s embarking on one of their own.

Results & Fixtures

Liverpool U21s 1 - Heart of Midlothian 0, Saturday July 27th

The young Reds concluded their short pre-season tournament in Belfast with a tidy 1-0 victory over a Heart of Midlothian side captained by former Liverpool defender Danny Wilson. For the second straight match, Kristoffer Peterson netted the lone goal and, by all accounts, Joao Carlos Teixeira continued to pull the strings in midfield. Jordan Rossiter was handed a start and according to reports was one of the more effective players, managing to outmuscle grown men and remain composed in the middle of the pitch. The mysterious "Rafa" who appeared on the teamsheet for the U21s' first match against Glentoran started again and reportedly played well. Speaking to the official site on Tuesday, Alex Inglethorpe expressed pride in how his young players coped with the physical demands of the two matches despite being without some of the more experienced players. Next up for the U21s is a friendly in Spain against Real Sociedad this coming Saturday.

The Northen Ireland Milk Cup

Liverpool has sent a U17 and a U15 squad to compete in the Premier and Junior sections, respectively, of the 31st Annual Northern Irish Milk Cup, an international youth tournament held every pre-season. It's an exciting occasion for the Liverpool youngsters, most of whom are representing the club away from home for the first time, and one the players ought to view as a launching platform. A 15 year-old Steve McManaman scored a hat-trick in the final of the 1988 Milk Cup as Liverpool beat Motherwell to take that year's title, and a slightly older McManaman reflected on the experience this week. New U18s coach Mike Garrity shared some thoughts on the tournament with the official site as well. The tournament started on Monday and, after three group-stage matches, will proceed to a knockout phase. Here is a quick rundown of how the two Liverpool squads have done so far.

The U17 squad is roughly Liverpool's full-strength Under-18 side and includes new signings Pedro Chirivella and Sergi Canos, but nevertheless struggled from the off against County Armagh on Monday, falling behind 3-0 after half an hour. Substitutes Ryan Kent, Harry Wilson, and Chirivella made an impact in the second half, and Liverpool clawed two goals back from Louis Robles and Adam Philips. The comeback ultimately fell short, though, and the Reds lost 3-2. Yesterday the U17s bounced back against Chilean side O'Higgins FC, winning 3-1 on the back of goals from early season stars Wilson, Canos, and Chirivella. The U17s wrap up their group stage matches tonight against Newcastle and need a big win to have any hope of advancing to the semi-finals of the cup.

The U15 squad contains the familiar names of summer signings Herbie Kane and Yan Dhanda, and got off to a great start, winning 2-0 over County Tyrone on Monday. See 2:20 on the video here for highlights including dangerous play throughout by striker Anas Abdo, who scored the first goal from a corner, and a brilliant free kick by Kane. Dhanda appears to have been injured in the game, so we'll keep an eye out for any reports of his progress. Yesterday the U15s faced Cavan & Monaghan and needed a late, brilliant goal from Connor Masterson to secure a 1-1 draw. Finally, the U15s wrapped up the group phases today with a 4-2 win over Southampton thanks to another goal from Herbie Kane and a second half hat-trick by Liam Robinson. The results have earned the young reds a place in the semi-finals of the Junior section where they will face County Atrim. The finals will be aired live on the BBC, so if our lads should make it that far (and Everton is in the other semi-final, so could be a U15s Derby which would be swell), we'll run some kind of match-thread.

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General News & Notes

Under-18 Premier League Fixtures Released

The Barclay's Under-18 Premier League fixtures were released last week along with yet another new league format for the youth ranks. This year the league is segmented into North and South divisions with 11 teams each, with each team playing every other team both home and away, as well as meeting every other team from the other division once. This 31 game season is a big step up in both organization and competition for the U18 ranks, and from the Barclays Premier League site:

The Academies participating in the Northern Regional League are: Blackburn Rovers, Bolton Wanderers, Everton, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Middlesbrough, Newcastle United, Sunderland, Stoke City and Wolverhampton Wanderers. The Academies participating in the Southern Regional League are: Arsenal, Aston Villa, Chelsea, Fulham, Leicester City, Norwich City, Reading, Southampton, Tottenham Hotspur, West Bromwich Albion and West Ham United.

Liverpool's first match is on August 16th away to Arsenal.

Jerome Sinclair Injured

The tweet that shook the world. Or, not really, but Sinclair tweeted about injuries, and then followed that up with an update of sorts two days ago, saying that he got good news from the physio and should be back in no time. Of course, that tweet has now been removed, which is probably not the most promising of signs, but I'll refrain from speculating until we know more. Sinclair will hope to avoid a repeat of last season's nagging injuries, and is one we've talked about knocking on the door of the first team should he stay healthy.

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Transfer News & Speculation

Liverpool Take Real Madrid Center Back on Trial

The name "Rafa" appeared on the team sheet for the U21s' match versus Glentoran last week, and it was speculated that he was a new signing, or perhaps a trialist. Alex Inglethorpe confirmed after their recent match against Hearts that he is indeed a trialist, and through the collective sleuthing of the Twitterati it emerged that Rafa is Rafael Páez Cardona, an 18 year-old center back from Real Madrid. His size (6'4") is immediately noticeable, and from match reports from the first two games it seems he's very strong, decent with his feet, and excellent in the air. For an U21 side that has lost Wisdom to the first team and Jakub Sokolik to frequent injury, Rafa would be a great addition to the squad should his trial prove successful.

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