Every year, there are one or two Academy players that break through and make a name for themselves with Liverpool. They don’t always make the cut in the long run, but having an Academy stocked with talent certainly helps the chances of bringing through the next Trent Alexander-Arnold.
This season, the player who became known as the next player to watch was Scottish youngster Ben Doak. The 17 year old winger made himself known by showing no fear making aggressive runs down the right wing in a couple of senior team appearances this winter. Besides making it to the bright lights of the senior team, Doak also tore up the youth competition he faced at both the U18/19 and U21/23 levels. His electric play across all levels this past season has put Doak on the radar of Steve Clarke, the manager of the Scottish National Team.
As Scotland prepare for a series of Euro qualifying matches, he talked about some of the young talent on the cusp of earning a call up to the senior national team. Doak was one of the names brought up, along with Aston Villa’s Rory Wilson.
“He’s an attacker and probably a really difficult player to play against,” Clarke said of Doak. “Because he just runs. He’s so quick and he can go either way. You could probably play him as a striker. Just ask him to run in behind teams and stretch them.”
While Doak has impressed, the Scotland manager wants to see more of him playing senior team minutes. Of course, that is easier said than done, especially when trying to break through in a team like Liverpool that is loaded with attacking talent.
“Again, at 17 he’s just a youngster. But he’s been in and around the Liverpool first team, without making the breakthrough. That’s not a criticism because it’s difficult to do at a club like that. Hopefully going forward those two boys can be a big part of our future. Let’s not put too much pressure on them. But if someone is playing regularly somewhere and scoring goals, they can be in Scotland’s first-team squad. I don’t think Ben is quite at that level yet but he’s working towards it. If he shows he’s good enough to be involved, he can be, for sure.”
While Liverpool are loaded up with left wing options, they are light on the right behind Mohamed Salah. If Doak manages to continue his progression, he could be in line for some minutes in cup competitions and UEFA Europa League next season, and potentially the odd senior team match if all goes well.