With Liverpool’s US tour firmly in the rearview and with the Community Shield waiting in the wings, football that counts is finally just around the corner. Before participating in this Very Important Competition, though, Liverpool have decamped to Evian for a mini-camp before their tilt against Olympique Lyon on Wednesday.
Liverpool brought 29 players along for the trip which departed right from Edinburgh following their friendly with Napoli. The list of those players in attendance contains few surprises - it’s basically everyone from the first team that we’d expected, including the contingent of folks who’ve been on holiday since international duty. This means each of Alisson Becker, Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane, and Mohamed Salah have all joined the squad.
There are also injury boosts to celebrate: both Naby Keita and Xherdan Shaqiri have made the trip. Jurgen Klopp also indicated that both players have participated in training over the last day or so, meaning that they’re on the path back to being fully re-integrated into the squad as the season opener looms. This is all good news!
What is, maybe, of interest though is who of the young players have been included as part of the squad to make the trip. Rhian Brewster is basically a fringe first-teamer now, so seeing his name included isn’t a surprise. However, scanning the group of academy players involved - among them, Ki-Jana Hoever, Sepp Van den Berg, and new signing Harvey Elliott - leaves at least one name that’s been on the verge of cracking the squad but has not quite made the leap: Ben Woodburn.
Jurgen Klopp has stressed that leaving Woodburn behind - and similarly highly-touted academy youth Curtis Jones - isn’t a signal as to how he sees them fitting into the team’s plans for next year. When asked, Klopp indicated that it was simply a matter of not having enough space to carry that many people on the squad. And both of the youth players were featured on the US tour and in the other pre-season friendlies.
Specifically in the case of Woodburn, though, one still feels a bit of anxiety. A year without a loan has seemingly stalled his progress and he isn’t quite as sharp or promising as he was when he made his debut as a Liverpool player just two seasons ago. Hopefully, the young Red can find a suitable destination for a loan and can find some playing time.
In the meanwhile, here’s hoping that the squad at Evian are able to get some good training in and sharpen up ahead of their re-match with rivals Manchester City. Bring home another trophy and keep the winning ways from last season going, lads.