With Liverpool set to play two games a week through the end of the season, manager Jürgen Klopp is going to need to rest and rotate some of his regular starters in order to keep the team fresh. The last two weekends, first against Stoke City and then against Bournemouth, have seen him do just that.
Bournemouth in particular saw a heavily changed side, as only Roberto Firmino remained in the starting lineup from Thursday’s Europa League clash with Borussia Dortmund. There was even rotation in goal, where 22-year-old Danny Ward was handed a surprise senior debut for Liverpool in place of Simon Mignolet.
"It was special for me and my family, but I’m more disappointed that I didn’t get a clean sheet at the end," reflected the young goalkeeper following Sunday’s 2-1 victory. "That’s what I’m there to do—keep the ball out of the net. It’s disappointing not to keep the clean sheet, but overall I felt quite confident out there.
"I thought the lads in front of me put in a real shift as well The boys at the back did really well in controlling them and putting their bodies on the line when they had to. We defended really well as a unit. The manager sees us all every day and knows what we’re about. We’re a hard-working bunch, and that goes for everyone."
Ward had a mostly solid debut, and many fans quick to note his confidence in distribution. In the air, especially late on with Liverpool looking to protect a two-goal lead, he did however show some of the same shakiness that has plagued starter Simon Mignolet. Regardless, it was an impressive first start for the youngster.
It shouldn’t have been too overwhelming for Ward, though, given the goalkeeper was a key player for Aberdeen while on loan at the Scottish side in the autumn, likely making Sunday more a case of having to knock off the rust of not playing in a few months than an overwhelming first game for a young debutant.
Now, while Mignolet is likely to come back in against Everton on Wednesday, Ward will likely be looking forward to a few more starts before the end of the season. So too will the likes of Connor Randall, Brad Smith, Kevin Strward, Skeyi Ojo, and Jordon Ibe—all youngsters who were handed the start on Sunday.
"It’s nice to see the young boys out there, performing the way they have and getting a win in the Premier League," Ward added. "It’s special to be able to make 10 changes and have so many young boys playing."