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Liverpool Youth Prospects Experiencing "Breakout Year" Says U21 Coach Michael Beale

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The Who weren't wrong: the kids are all right.

"Victor I love you, Victor I doooooooooo, when we're apart my heart beats only for youuuuuuuuuuuu..."
"Victor I love you, Victor I doooooooooo, when we're apart my heart beats only for youuuuuuuuuuuu..."
Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Liverpool Football Club have always prided themselves on bringing players through their academy from youth to first team. In previous decades, it's what ensured a strongly beating Scouse heart in the dressing room on match days, and while the number of local lads emerging from the training facility in Kirkby isn't as high as it used to be, Liverpool are experiencing a bit of a surge in the number of young players getting a real chance at some action with Jürgen Klopp's senior team of late.

"The Academy is a really positive place to come and work," said U21 coach Michael Beale in an interview with the Liverpool Echo. "It's a breakout year. I said to the players when we broke for Christmas: ‘This will be the strongest under-21 group ever or it will be deemed the weakest. It all depends on how well you do when the manager gives you a chance'. It's been exciting. We've had a number of players feature not just once but three or four times.

"As an Academy coach it was nice to go through the January transfer window without three or four big names coming in because you know that leaves spaces open for a Cameron, a Kevin, a Connor or a Brad to continue their journeys. Jürgen is used to competing in the last four of the Champions League so the standards he's expecting in a young player are really high."

Injuries may have forced Klopp to consider the youngsters more than he might otherwise have paid them any mind had he had a complete senior squad available to him at various points in the season, but graduating players from one stage of the club's organizational structure to the next is always part of the plan and there's excitement to be found in so many young players coming through at once.

"The pathway here to the first team is real and that creates a real buzz around the place," Beale continued. "We're a club that has produced players down the years and the people demand it. The exposure for our young players here is much greater than at the London clubs in terms of interest and people actually knowing young players. People know who Ben Woodburn is. He's still an under-16 but people are excited about his journey.

"We're trying to make a pathway for our young players here and we're fortunate that the manager has really bought into that."

Not all of the youngsters will end up in Liverpool red for the next decade, of course, as long time fans have seen exciting prospects come and go over the years. If only one from the current crop comes good, that's not an unreasonable rate of return; if two or three come good, Beale's belief that this is a breakout year will be proven multiple times over.