With Liverpool’s youth and fringe players heading to Tenerife for a mid-season training camp this week while most of the first team was off on international duty, the expectation was that it was a chance for the likes of Joao Carlos Teixeira and Tiago Ilori to impress manager Jürgen Klopp.
Word that they hadn’t travelled with the squad, then, came as a surprise. According to the Liverpool Echo, though, the two players were given leave to instead travel to a Portuguese U23 training camp taking place over the international break this week with the hopes of representing their country at the Olympics.
Both players turned 23 this year, meaning that they are eligible to play for Portugal at the Olympics in Brazil this summer without taking one of that country’s three overage slots. Neither is a lock, but both have represented Portugal at every youth level and will at least be in contention to earn places.
That’s especially true for Ilori, who started for Portugal at the U21 Euros last summer as his country finished runners-up to Sweden in a final match that had to be decided on penalties. Ilori impressed, though not enough to get his name into contention at Liverpool, and he will likely at least make the Olympics squad.
Teixeira is more of a doubt, as he wasn’t with the U21s last summer. Part of that, though, was due to injuries keeping him out of contention during qualification for last summer’s final and that Portugal wanted to stick as much as possible with a settled, cohesive group of players throughout the entire tournament cycle.
If either player does make the squad, they will miss pre-season and the start of the 2016-17 season, as the Olympic football tournament runs from August 4th to the 20th, after which the players would be mandated two weeks of rest to recover.