After strong performances by the youth in mixed squads against the likes of Arsenal and Everton, and a loss to Aston Villa by a U23 side where they looked far better than the final scoreline, on Tuesday Liverpool’s youth again were given the chance to shine.
Which they did, outplaying Shrewsbury in the FA Cup. As against Villa, Liverpool’s youth often looked the better, more technical side—albeit one that at times could be physically overmatched. Afterwards, they sought to credit their more senior teammates.
“The players the whole week have been sending messages,” said captain on the day—now Liverpool’s youngest ever Curtis Jones. “They were wishing us luck, texting us individually to tell us what we need to do in our game, how to impress and help the team.”
In addition to James Milner, who trained with the U23s ahead of the match and then joined them on the bench in an auxiliary coaching role, Jones singled out club captain Jordan Henderson and academy graduate Trent Alexander-Arnold for their efforts.
It wasn’t just them, though, or even just the players, with Jones saying that people throughout the club’s coaching staff and hierarchy had gone out of their way to support them heading into the game—and their chance to make a mark for the club.
“The staff the whole week were unbelievable,” Jones added. “That showed in how the boys went out showing character, belief, and showing exactly what the first-team staff are looking for in players. There are no words to explain how great the boys did.”
“To captain this great team in front of unbelievable fans and to do it at such a young age is a huge honour and one which will stick with me the rest of my life.”