When the 33-man squad for Liverpool's US tour was announced, one name stood out as being far less familiar than the others. Adam Phillips, who featured for 45 minutes in Liverpool's maiden preseason bout against Brøndby, was placed in the squad and immediately into the collective awareness of Liverpool supporters everywhere.
After scoring once each in the aforementioned match as well is in the subsequent tussle with Preston North End, Kristoffer Peterson was added to the squad on the basis of these performances, as well as those during pre-season training. These young names are new to many Liverpool supporters, and if they should appear in the upcoming American tour, it would behoove us all to have a deeper understanding of their stories.
DOB: 28/11/94 (19) | Height: 6'0" (1.85 meters)
Peterson signed for Liverpool in December 2010 from Swedish side A Savedalens IF, but didn't become a fixture in the under-18 side until the following season, when he scored 5 goals and was one of the squad's standout players. The subsequent season, 2012-2013, Peterson took a big step forward as an attacking winger, scoring 9 goals and making the jump to the under-21s.
Last season was big for Peterson. He scored 3 goals in the under-21 preseason, went on a short loan to Tranmere Rovers, came back to sign a contract extension with Liverpool, and finished the season with 6 goals for the under-21s. To be offered a contract at that age is a significant hurdle for young players to clear, and Peterson agreed, saying at the time that "this is the biggest motivation boost of my career".
Peterson has always had bags of talent, but for whatever reason has slipped under the radar. That time appears to have passed. When he first featured prominently for the academy, he played with a very direct, tricky dribbling style that was visually reminiscent of a young Cristiano Ronaldo, but with far less substance. He appeared to return a more mature, well-rounded attacker from Tranmere, and that allowed Alex Inglethorpe to play Peterson across the front line and, towards the end of the season, as a striker.
If early results are any indication, that switch seems to be working. Peterson's main attributes are his pace, dribbling, size, and speed, but playing as a striker he's demonstrated an excellent work rate, and a pleasantly surprising tactical awareness. His goals this preseason have both been the result of fantastic positioning in the box, which, as an dimension added to round out his game, bodes well for the young Swede. He's earned his place in the US tour squad—as it turns out he's not there in lieu of Fabio Borini—and while we'll be hoping he can add more goals to his tally, for now an adorable Skill Skool video will have to suffice.
DOB: 15/1/98 (16)
Adam Phillips, by far the youngest player included in the US tour squad, signed for Liverpool as an U11 player from Blackburn Rovers. Phillips, who comes from a family of cyclists, was named British cycling champion for his age group as a 13 year-old, but has focused on football since. Last season was our first proper glimpse of the boy, as he played for Neil Critchley and the under-18s, and his stock has risen quite quickly in this short time. Phillips scored three goals for the under-18s, and also captained the England under-16 side in the youth Montaigu Tournament, scoring the winner against Portugal in a group stage match.
Phillips is an interesting player. He mostly played as the number 8 in the center of midfield last season, and displayed good, quick passing, as well as excellent long-range shooting and set piece ability. He is athletic but not quite pacy, and although Rodgers has played him primarily on the right thus far in the preseason, he's quite firmly a central midfielder, a position better suited to his physique and skill-set. Phillips may already be one of Liverpool's best free-kick takers at any level, but he will play most of the season with the under-18s, where he will try to assert himself as a more physically dominating presence. His height isn't listed anywhere as he's still growing, but he's a relatively tall boy, and as he adds strength he may turn into a very intriguing prospect.
So why is Phillips in the squad? There is no obvious answer. There are older and more accomplished players who are probably more deserving. Phillips joined first-team training at the very beginning of pre-season, so perhaps he impressed Rodgers to such an extent. However, the more likely answer has to do with academy squad togetherness as pre-season preparations ramp up. Phillips will gain an experience many of the older lads already have in prior preseason tours, and unlike in prior years, the places for academy players is reduced this time around as the first-team squad fills out. Phillips' minutes on the tour, if any, will be limited and the academy's upcoming preseason tour of its own will likely be a better preparation than this US tour would have been for most under-21 players.