As the Liverpool U21s gave up a 3-0 lead to score a disappointing draw in yesterday's mini-derby, the most prodigious of the club's young strikers was nowhere to be seen, to the bewilderment of many. And after he missed out on the club's pre-season tour of Asia and Australia this summer, a cryptic tweet from the man himself amid rumours of a contract dispute led to speculation about his future. Last season's top goalscorer being left out in one of the headliner fixtures of the U21 season could be considered fuel for further conjecture.
U21s manager Michael Beale, on the other hand, clears up that Sinclair's absences was injury related, doesn't think one should pay too much attention to rumours, and is pleased with the young man's work in training.
"He picked up a knock two days ago and he’s going to be out for 14 days which was a shame because he would have played against Everton.
"You’ve just got to be careful with the things in the press because people can hear a rumour and go a little bit too far with what the truth is
"But Jerome’s attitude towards training has always been outstanding and that’s why we’ve seen the progress from Jerome last season – because he turns up every day and wants to work hard
"If anyone watched the Chelsea game last week they’ll know Jerome looks like a player who’s giving his all for Liverpool and we’ll keep moving forward with that."
Those who have followed Sinclair's progress in the past few years are well aware of his injury woes, one of many traits he shares with first team striker Daniel Sturridge, so it comes as no surprise that a knock was what kept him out of the derby. It is disconcerting, but less so than rumours of a rift between the player and club.
The logical next step for any U21 player who proves himself dominant at youth level is playing senior football. Sinclair had a loan spell at Wigan cut short last season, having only played 9 minutes for the Latics, but will be hopeful of getting another shot at playing with the big boys this year, as will other U21 standouts. Beale agrees:
"We’ve got a little bit of time. There should be good news in the next couple of days about one or two going out but we’ve got to assess if those young ones are ready and the options that come in for them.
"We’re not willing to just send them anywhere, it’s got to be the right option for them.
"It’s really important at Liverpool that we keep the pipeworks clean. If a player’s ripe for the next challenge he’s got to go and have it because another player will be ripe for his next challenge. It’s our job, we don’t want a bottleneck of players in-house."
So. Hope remains that Liverpool's youngest ever starter and brightest current striking prospect will still have a future at the club, and that he will get senior minutes on loan this year to further develop his talent. We can probably all agree that these are basically good things.