Virgil van Dijk, Naby Keïta, Fabinho, Andrew Robertson, Daniel Sturridge: five of the six standouts far for Liverpool this pre-season. And the sixth? Curtis Jones, who, if you haven’t been paying attention to pre-season of the youth teams, is probably an unfamiliar name.
The 17-year-old midfielder has stood out over in club’s first five games this summer, holding his own alongside more senior teammates and standing out compared to the other youth and fringe players who have been given the chance to impress in the early going.
“Football-wise he of course stepped up,” manager Jürgen Klopp told the club’s official website. “That’s how it is. He is a tall boy but still very mobile, good at dribbling and stuff like that, but now we need to make sure he finds the right moment to pass the ball.
“But it’s easier to train that than to show somebody how to dribble, which is quite natural. It’s cool, but there is a long way to go. We see his potential and want to help him to be the best he can be. As long as he is ready for that, the future is bright.”
Some of the younger players, and those whose future likely lies away from Anfield, may find minutes harder to come by with many of Liverpool’s internationals returning to the fold this week following their post-World Cup break. Jones, though, will likely stay in the mix.
While his immediately future likely lies with the U23s for the upcoming season, at this point it wouldn’t surprise anyone if he made a few domestic cup appearances or was included in the travelling squad for European away days to help him gain experience.
And if he can continue to stand out even as more of the senior players are worked into the mix over the next few weeks, it could be even more than that—it might be a long shot, but on his pre-season form so far, Jones already looks ready to push for playing time.