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Henderson Highlights Importance of Experience for Youth Players

The captain talks up the importance of balancing experience and youthful exuberance in this Liverpool squad.

Milton Keynes Dons v Liverpool FC - Carabao Cup Third Round Photo by James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images

The fans might have already moved on from last week's League Cup win over MK Dons (there are, after all, bigger Champions League fish to fry), but captain Jordan Henderson is still made up about the performance and what it means for the squad going forward.

In particular, he took a moment in today's match program to point out the current strength of the squad from top to bottom. Or rather, from youngest to oldest.

"The thing that struck me most watching and supporting the team in the Carabao Cup against MK Dons last week was the importance of experience and youthful freshness for a modern-day squad," the captain wrote.

"Our two goalscorers on the night highlight it. The second was from a brilliant header from our 17-year-old Dutch defender Ki-Jana Hoever. But our first was from...well...a slightly older James Milner."

Well put Hendo. You don't want a to face the wrath of James Milner. He might passive aggressively offer you your least favorite kind of biscuit for afternoon tea. Or maybe leave an empty Ribena bottle near your locker.

"We were all buzzing for Curtis Jones to pick up the MOTM award," Henderson continued, "particularly knowing how much it will have meant to him being a local lad. Well-deserved as well – he was brilliant. But I think Curt would be the first to admit there were plenty of decent candidates for it on the night.

"However, people shouldn’t ignore the role and guidance of the more senior lads. I’ll be truthful, playing in situations like that isn’t easy – in fact, it’s outright hard.

"It’s a group that haven’t played together before, so the responsibility on the experienced guys to help the team through it is so important and underlines how lucky we are to have the professionals we do in our team. In games like that you can’t just worry about yourself and none of our lads did that."

We might not hold the League Cup in the same esteem as the Champions League, or even the Super Cup, but it is a good chance to give first team experience to many deserving youth players. And Pedro Chirivella.

That Hendo wanted to highlight last week today, of all days, says to me that Jürgen Klopp is trying to instill a squad mentality, regardless of the size or importance of the competition. It is especially important when these youth players are called into action, not because of rotation or choice, but because of an injury crisis (knock on all the wood that it doesn't come down to that). Hopefully the youth movement can continue against Arsenal (unless we get Chirivella'd).