More of England’s top clubs should send their youth players out on loan. At least according to Aston Villa manager Steve Bruce. And it’s a Liverpool youngster not getting many minutes for the club that has the Villa boss focused on minutes and player development this week.
“The Under-23s league isn't quite working,” Bruce said. “If you play when you are 18 and you are successful, you need the next step. At the moment, we've got the ludicrous situation of Solanke playing for England when he's hardly had a game with Liverpool. That can't be right.”
Bruce might be overstating the situation just slightly, especially given Solanke only just arrived at Liverpool this year—and part of him signing for the club was a belief they wouldn’t send him straight out on loan like his last club, Chelsea, might well have been inclined to do.
Solanke stayed, he impressed the training staff, and he earned the role of Liverpool’s third striker this season. He might not be getting massive minutes, but he’s in the mix and as long as he is, form or injuries could see Solanke double his seven appearances in fairly short order.
If he’s still third in the pecking order come January and he and the coaches think he needs minutes—and if Danny Ings is believed to be ready to taking on the role—a loan could be agreed. For now, though, criticising Solanke’s lack of Liverpool minutes is rather misguided.
In general, a better u23 league or a better method of getting young players playing time on short loans or some other method might well be necessary, but Solanke and his seven appearances since arriving at Liverpool over the summer seems rather silly as the cause’s poster child.
“We have young players all over the country doing well but not playing,” Broce added. “Surely a young player would prefer turning out for the likes of Forest Green, Bury, Oldham Athletic—you're better playing there for three months and learning your trade than in the Under-23s.”