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Liverpool Academy Update: November Edition

With a breather due to the international break, we take an overdue look at the progress of Liverpool's academy talent. It wouldn't be Liverpool if it didn't include inconsistent and middling results.

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Alex Livesey
Results & Fixtures: Under-21s
Date Opponent Result Liverpool Goalscorers
8/19 Sunderland U21 W 1-0 McLaughlin
8/22 Manchester United U21 D 1-1 Lussey
9/12 West Ham United U21 W 4-0 Kent, Ojo (2), Yesil
9/25 Manchester City U21 L 3-4 Maguire, Phillips (2)
10/16 Southampton U21 L 1-3 OG
10/26 Fulham U21 L 2-3 Trickett-Smith, Sinclair
10/31 Tottenham U21 W 2-1 Kent, Rossiter

Welcome back dear readers! Liverpool's official site has insisted on making it a bit harder to track the youth players this season, with the recent HD upgrade costing us the extensive youth match coverage of last season, but we carry on nonetheless. Long-time readers will remember the dearth of matches which continues to plague the England under-21 setup. The new Barclays U21 format now allows for a grand total of 21 matches which, quite frankly, is just not enough, but we now have relegation and promotion, so that is something.

Michael Beale's under-21s began the season reasonably well, with 7 points gained from the opening 3 matches. A combination of loans, a lack of depth, and the natural order of things has created a relatively young squad, with 17 and 18 year olds—such as Harry Wilson, Ryan Kent, Seyi Ojo, and Jordan Rossiter—making up the bulk of the squad.

After those matches, however, things have deteriorated, with the recent victory over Spurs halting a 3 match skid. With such a young squad, inconsistent performances are to be expected, and the lack of match time surely does not help the manager find his optimal team selection. Of course, the youth of the squad does allow ample crossover between the under-21 and under-18 squads, as we will see below.

All of this leaves the under-21s in 7th place in the league table, remarkably only 4 points off of the top with a game in hand. With no team truly breaking away, the squad will feel there is still time to correct course before the season gets away from them. Once again, we see the youth mimicking the senior side.

Anyone hoping for impending reinforcements callable by Brendan Rodgers will be disappointed. Though the aforementioned four have been extremely good this season, none has shown the sheer dominance required to break through thus far. Liverpool's most promising youngsters are still quite young, so there is time, but no one seems to be on the cusp of breaking through on a more permanent basis. The one possible exception is Jordan Rossiter, but given the current personnel realities of the first team, a prolonged stretch for the young scouser seems unlikely at this point.

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Results & Fixtures: Under-18s
Date Competition Opponent Result Liverpool Goalscorers
8/16 Barclay's U18 PL Stoke City U18 L 1-7 Nicholas
8/23 Barclay's U18 PL Derby County U18 D 2-2 Brewitt, Sinclair
8/30 Barclay's U18 PL Manchester United U18 W 4-0 Wilson, Sinclair, Marsh, Kent
9/13 Barclay's U18 PL Middlesborough U18 L 2-3 Marsh (2)
9/16 UEFA Youth League Ludogorets U19 W 4-0 Sinclair (2), Cleary, O'Hanlon
9/20 Barclay's U18 PL Bolton Wanderers U18 W 3-0 Sinclair, Canos, Marsh
9/27 Barclay's U18 PL Newcastle U18 W 5-1 Wilson (2), Canos, Marsh, Sinclair
10/1 UEFA Youth League FC Basel U19 L 2-3 Sinclair (2)
10/4 Barclay's U18 PL Manchester City U18 L 2-4 Canos, Wilson
10/11 Barclay's U18 PL Wolverhampton U18 L 0-4
10/18 Barclay's U18 PL Blackburn U18 W 5-0 Marsh (3), Canos (2)
10/22 UEFA Youth League Real Madrid U19 W 3-2 Brannagan, Brewitt, Wilson
10/25 Barclay's U18 PL Sunderland U18 L 1-2 Canos
11/1 Barclay's U18 PL Everton U18 D 1-1 Nicholas
11/4 UEFA Youth League Real Madrid U19 L 1-4 Brannagan
11/12 Barclay's U18 PL Wolverhampton U18 D 2-2 Hart, Kent

Thankfully things are a bit more exciting with Neil Critchley and the under-18s (and the under-19 version he manages for the UEFA Youth League), with a significant amount of matches to discuss, and some more notable individual performers as well.

Some highlights of the season thus far have been the utter dismantling of Manchester United in the league and the very exciting 3-2 victory over Real Madrid, in which Harry Wilson scored a last minute winner. League results have been very inconsistent, with certain matches featuring under-16 and in some cases even younger players leading to very lopsided losses (Stoke and Wolves), and the squad also sits in 7th place in the Barclay's U18 table, though in this case they are quite a bit behind first place Everton.

The emergence of Will Marsh has been one of the stories of the season thus far, with 8 league goals in 12 matches quite clearly standing out. Marsh is a bit of a lanky striker who has had a topsy turvy ride thus far with Liverpool, and it will be interesting to see if he can keep it up. Jerome Sinclair, though not always fully fit and seemingly very inconsistent, continues to score at a prolific rate, with 9 goals in all competitions thus far. Other standouts have been Harry Wilson, Ryan Kent, and Sergi Canos, about all of whom many words in this column have been printed.

Liverpool also sit in 3rd place in group B of the UEFA Youth League tables, 3 points behind joint leaders Real Madrid and Basel. Similar to the first team, Liverpool needs to win all remaining matches to guarantee advancement from the group.

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