In the League Cup, having now reached the semi-final Liverpool will see a first chance to win silverware this season. If they do, and no matter who plays in the final stages, a lot will be owed to the younger players who were key in advancing in the earlier rounds.
Whatever happens next, those young players—and the academy coaches and staff who helped them to get to where they are—were key, and manager Jürgen Klopp sought to highlight their role ahead of kickoff.
“I am never short of a positive word to say about the work our Academy guys do,” Klopp said in the matchday programme. “They help to nurture players who are exceptional young men as well as very talented athletes. Their hunger to learn is what stands out.
“They come to us with a freshness and eagerness to absorb all the knowledge and experience because of the outstanding LFC Academy staff. The environment they create, the culture, [but] ultimately the young players must be receptive, and how they adapt and integrate is very much down to them.”
Tyler Morton and Caoimhin Kelleher have both seen their stock rise massively this season due to their play in the League Cup, and youngsters like Connor Bradley, Neco Williams, and Owen Beck have also seen minutes in multiple rounds.
Their play is why the Reds are facing Arsenal in the cup today. Why they have a chance to reach a final and perhaps lift a trophy. The job isn’t done yet, though, not for Liverpool and not for those younger players, either.
“The crucial thing for them is to make sure the ‘firsts’ turn into ‘first of many’ and definitely not into ‘lasts,” Klopp added. “The opportunity at this club is always there.”