Benitez hoping for youth boost

Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez believes being involved in the Champions League will help the development of the club’s youngsters.

Benitez has included two 18-year-olds, strikers Nathan Eccleston and David Amoo, in the club’s 28-man squad for this season’s group stage which starts against Hungarian club Debrecen on September 16.

Manchester-born Eccleston and south Londoner Amoo are joined in the squad by three other recent Academy graduates Jay Spearing, Stephen Derby and Martin Kelly.

Liverpool have had to leave out two senior squad players from the 28, full-back Philippe Degen and winger Nabil El Zhar, due to the regulations involving the amount of home-produced players that have to be named.

Spearing, Derby and Kelly all made their first-team debuts in the Champions League win at PSV Eindhoven last term.

Benitez said: “We had to leave two players out of the list which was a difficult decision.

“For the young players to be involved is a very good experience for them. It is important for them to be on the list and if they are in the squad, or play, it would be fantastic for them.

“Always when you go away with the senior players you can learn something so I think that will be really important for them.

“We have to prepare the team for these six games and then hopefully we will have more games when the group finishes.

“The young players know if they work hard and improve then they will get their chances.”

Benitez cited the example of Daniel Ayala who has made his first-team debut this season.

The Spanish defender made his first start against Stoke at Anfield and Benitez said he will get further chances in the future.

He said: “Ayala has done really well for us and he is playing very well for the reserves.

“He is only 18 and is learning and will be a good player for the future.”

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