Liverpool’s U23 went out and did the business midweek against Shrewsbury Town in the 4th round replay of their FA Cup tie. If the Baby Reds had gone out, it would have felt harsh as they generally dominated that game from every metric save the one that mattered. In the end, though, a great cross by Neco Williams was re-directed into goal by Shrewsbury defender Ro-Shaun Williams, and Liverpool are now locked into a match against Chelsea in the 5th round.
Fans of the club, especially those who have imbibed in anything and everything Liverpool in this magical season, will have noticed the quality on hand among the youth. Harvey Elliott, Curtis Jones, Pedro Chirivella, and Neco Williams often get the plaudits, but even super babyfaced players like Leighton Clarkson - who looks like he form a One Direction look-a-like business with Tottenham Hotspur’s Harry Wink - and Adam Lewis provided immense shifts on Tuesday.
What’s clear, then, is that there is a very real link in terms of quality and style of play that exists between the first team and the youth. It’s evident in how well the teams have functioned when either the youth have been rotated in with the senior squad or, in the cup games where a truly mixed side was run out there.
That link was furthered on Tuesday when James Milner was shown behind the bench and it was let slip that Jurgen Klopp was watching the match live via his laptop while on holiday. Today, the official site indicated that Klopp also gave a congratulatory call to U23 coach Neil Critchley in the dressing room following the match. Critchley recounted some of the conversation.
“The boss got in touch before the game with some words of advice and support - and after the game as well. I think he was genuinely buzzing about the performance. He loves seeing the younger players play with no fear and passion.”
Looking forward, the squad for the 5th round will likely be another mixed one. But the lads that went out against Shrewsbury all acquitted themselves and one can only expect that Klopp will have some joy penciling in the names of a few of the people who were on the pitch that Tuesday evening.