Results & Fixtures
Liverpool U21s opened their Barclays U21 Premier League season with a thrilling 7 goal affair against Southampton at the Academy on Monday. The lineup was devoid of some of the usual names, most notably Ryan McLaughlin, Joao Carlos Teixeira, and Steven Sama who were training with the first team ahead of the 'behind closed doors' match that took place yesterday. The Reds started strong, with early pressure leading to an errant back-pass that Jack Dunn pounced on and finished coolly. Soon, however, the patchwork back line of Craig Roddan, Lloyd Jones, Jakub Sokolik, and Joe Maguire began pushing ever higher which left the squad extremely vulnerable. That and some shoddy communicating by stand-in goalkeeper Yusuf Mersin enabled Southampton to hit back with three quick goals. Impressively, the lads heads' did not drop, and they fought back to equalize before half-time via a Villyan Bijev penalty and a Kris Peterson goal.
Liverpool started the second half much better and were unfortunate not to take the lead through a variety of chances caused by significantly improved pressing by the front players, but it was Southampton who once again took advantage of the high line to go over the top repeatedly, with an impressive Jake Sinclair, brother of Scott, eventually scoring the winner. For Liverpool, Jordan Rossiter continued to impress with an all-action, full-pitch display of beastliness, and Villyan Bijev created opportunities nicely in the attacking third. A disappointing result but a decent performance, and we would expect to see the U21s shore up the defensive line when Sama, McLaughlin and Danny Ward return to the fold.
Liverpool team: Mersin, Roddan, Maguire, Jones, Sokolik, Rossiter, Peterson, Jordan Lussey (Harry Wilson), Dunn, Daniel Trickett-Smith (Nacho), Bijev (Adam Morgan).
Next Match: Monday, August 19th, 7:00pm BST/2:00pm EST, away to Manchester United.
Liverpool U18s 2 - Leicester City U18s 1, Saturday August 10th
The Under-18s concluded their strong preseason with a win away over Leicester City on Saturday, with Defender Dan Cleary scoring from a set piece, and Sergi Canos continuing his torrid goalscoring form since joining Liverpool this summer. The U18s league season opens this Friday away to Arsenal, though as of now the match is not scheduled to be aired live.
General News & Notes
McLaughlin had been interviewed about his eagerness to get the league season under way just before that game kicked off, but then was noticeably absent from the squad. That, in addition to the news coming out over the weekend from Northern Ireland boss Michael O'Neill that McLaughlin has decided to stay away from international football for the time being, fueled speculation that the promising right-back may in fact have been informed that he's got a part to play under Brendan Rodgers sooner rather than later. Time will tell whether his involvement with the senior squad during yesterday's closed-doors match augured well for his role this season, but in the context of super annoying and meaningless international friendlies, his decision to focus on Liverpool seems a wise one. Clearly Ryan is eager to make an impression on the coaching staff right now, and we're very bullish on his chances of doing so.
Transfer News & Speculation
Liverpool Linked with Moves for Hughes, Zivkovic
Meantime, over in transfer-land, Liverpool has been linked with a couple of extremely promising young players. First, courtesy of the ever reliable Mirror, comes a link to Derby County midfielder Will Hughes. The 18 year old, pimply-faced phenom, at least according to his manager, is wanted by many of England's top clubs and was involved with the England Under-21s in this round of friendlies. In the meantime, Liverpool has also been scouting Groningen's 16 year old Richairo Zivkovic, according to De Telegraaf, who scored in each of Groningen's opening two Eredivisie matches. Both players look like significant talents and, so long as they are not in lieu of reinforcements for the first-team, would be quite welcome.