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Is It Time to Play the Kids?

With the top four out of reach, we want to know if you want Brendan Rodgers to go with youth over the final few games of the season. Scroll down to cast your vote.

Carlos Rodrigues/Getty Images

When rumours began to swirl that Samed Yesil would be handed the start against Hull City, most Liverpool fans were at least open to the possibility. Some, those who had been keeping an eye on the young striker dubbed Germany’s next Gerd Muller and had been hoping he might be given a first team chance once he recovered from his latest injury setback, were even rather excited by the prospect.

Even those who weren’t, though, tended to shrug and ask, well, could he be any worse, really? Any worse than playing Raheem Sterling or Philippe Coutinho, players who very much aren’t strikers, up top? Worse than giving players like Mario Balotelli and Rickie Lambert, players who clearly don’t have a future at the club, another chance? Even if Yesil wasn’t the answer, could he be any worse? Most didn't think so, and a dire performance and 1-0 loss would seem to suggest they were right.

Yet in the end, Yesil couldn’t even make the bench against Hull. First Balotelli and then Lambert were given the chance, one more chance, and while neither could rightly be called the reason why Liverpool lost to the relegation-threatened Tigers, neither one did anything to change anyone’s thinking on them, and if willing buyers can be found it is a safe assumption both will be gone before the start of next season. And so we ask, is it finally time to move on from them?

Is it finally time to try out Yesil? And elsewhere on the pitch, is it finally time to give Cameron Brannagan, the 18-year-old midfielder who has often made the bench in recent weeks, a chance to play? What of other promising youngsters like Brad Smith and Jordan Rossiter and Pedro Chirivella? And what of 20-year-old right back Javi Manquillo? Surely paying them couldn’t lead to worse results than what the regular, senior starters have delivered over the past two months.

On the other hand, with four games to go and the Europa League places still a grab-bag of uncertainty, it could be seen as throwing in the towel. Liverpool may no longer realistically be able to think of a top four finish, but they could as easily end up seventh as fifth. Both are likely to get them in the Europa League—at least unless Aston Villa beat Arsenal in the FA Cup final—but one means automatic qualification and the other means taking part in qualification from the early stages.

Plus, finishing fifth looks a whole lot better on paper than seventh, which got Rafa Benetiz fired in 2010, a short year after he’d pushed hard for Liverpool’s first title of the Premier League era and not all that far removed from a Champions League final in Athens and victory in Istanbul. Though, of course, then you’re right back to the fact that Brendan Rodgers’ favoured senior players have delivered consistently dire performances over the past two months.

If it was up to you, then, what would you do? Stick with the seniors until the final whistle of the final match in the hopes they can hold on to a slightly more positive fifth-place finish? Or, for better or worse, run out the youths to find out if any might be ready to play a key role for the club next season? Leave your vote and, if you’re so inclined, let us know your reasoning in the comments.

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