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Ibe Extends Early Training to Cement First-Team Place

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The second half of last season saw Jordon Ibe have a significant impact on Liverpool's senior squad, but the 19-year-old is trying to secure his spot in the first team yet again with an extended summer training session.

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Though it's become a punchline--and a tired, unoriginal one at that--the decision to utilize a small contingent of Liverpool's wide forwards in a wingback role during a difficult stretch in the season had its positives. It provided Lazar Markovic with his most consistent run in the first team, with a string of solid performances along the way, and, after his recall from Derby County, gave Jordon Ibe a similar opportunity.

The 19-year-old eventually pushed Markovic out of the starting eleven with a number of excellent displays, providing pace and power down the right flank with a confidence that belied his age. An injury in February halted his rapid ascent, and while he didn't set the world alight after returning, it was clear that Ibe had established himself in the first-team picture ahead of next season, a reality underlined by the club tying him down to a new long-term deal.

Or at least it was clear to everyone other than Jordon Ibe. After a short break at season's end, Ibe returned to Melwood to work with Kenny Dalglish on his finishing, and the young forward has extended his pre-preason training regime to further strengthen his chances during another summer of change at Anfield:

"I'm hoping this is just the start for me. I want to play in lots of games. I'd like to play in the Champions League eventually. But I know I've got to start chipping in with goals. I realise this season we haven't scored enough. If you score goals, it's easier to win matches. And from a personal point of view, if you score goals it's a lot more difficult for the manager to leave you out.

"I'll have a few breaks abroad and recharge the batteries if it's possible. But I'm coming back in early. I'll be working with Alex Inglethorpe on my shooting. I know I need to improve on every aspect of my game. But I know too that goalscoring gives you confidence. It can lift other parts of your game to new levels. I want to give myself every chance of starting next season in form already. I don't take my position for granted and I certainly don't consider myself an established first-team player just because I've signed a new contract."

Everyone loves a trier, especially when that trier is a player of such promise. With Raheem Sterling's immediate future almost certainly lying away from Anfield and nobody quite certain how any of the new boys will settle, Ibe's chances of starting the season in or around the first team are excellent. If he adds finishing to a skillset that already includes blistering pace and strength in possession, he'll prove a vital component in Liverpool's 2015-2016 campaign.

And it's even better that, whether or not that proves to be the case from the start, he's intent on doing whatever it takes to make sure that his progress continues.