Since arriving at Liverpool, Brendan Rodgers has gained a reputation for giving young players a chance in the first team. Whether out of necessity, as was sometimes the case in his first season in charge, or because he believes the hunger of younger players can help to propel a team, Rodgers has become known as the Premier League manager who gives youngsters the chance to establish themselves in his squad.
He doesn't show the same fear of young players that a lot of other managers tend to. This summer, his third in charge of Liverpool, he’s doing it again, and this time it's Swedish attacker Kristoffer Peterson who is being given the chance to shine with the first team, with the 19-year-old a late addition for Liverpool’s trip to Boston.
Peterson, who joined Liverpool in December of 2010 from A Savedalens IF in Sweden, wasn’t scheduled to take the trip across the Atlantic with the first team, but after scoring in each of Liverpool’s first two preseason games and showing well in training, Rodgers decided to bring the 19-year-old along for the trip.
"He's done very, very well," Rodgers said on Tuesday. "Obviously I always look to involve some young players in our squad, and he wasn’t due to travel on this tour, but I’ve been really impressed with him in preseason in the opening two weeks and in the games he’s played. He’s played in two half-games and scored goals, and just his enthusiasm and his quality made me say on Saturday after the game he would be on the plane."
Peterson has begun to fulfill the potential the team saw in him in 2010 when they signed him from Sweden. Last year, he had a short-term loan with Tranmere Rovers and made seven appearances for the League One club—though it wasn't all positive as Roves finished 21st and were relegated. He then returned from his loan and signed an extension with Liverpool, re-joined the U21 squad, and scored six goals.
Rodgers acknowledges Peterson has a lot of potential, but, like most young players, he is tampering down the expectations for an unproven player who has started to gain some notoriety thanks to a few impressive displays.
"He's a very talented, young player," Rodgers said. "What his future holds at Liverpool remains to be seen, but he will certainly have a very good career in the game because of his qualities and his mentality. He’s a terrific young talent."
Now, it’s up to Peterson to step up to the challenge and make the best of his chance to impress the boss. Liverpool is not in short supply of young, attacking players so Peterson will need to take his opportunity to make a mark and force Rodgers to consider him, if not for the coming season then for the future.