Liverpool's likely lads: The next generation who could help prevent another 30-year title wait

Liverpool's likely lads: The next generation who could help prevent another 30-year title wait
Goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher is only 21-years-old but is already being tipped as the real thing by those in the know on Merseyside.

As Liverpool savour their title victory, eyes are already starting to turn to the next generation who could keep the club top of the league — and prevent the Kop waiting another 30 years for a team of champions.

Thankfully for manager Jurgen Klopp the list is a long one, ranging from players desperate to move from the bench to the starting line-up, to those still playing in the Academy and those sent out on loan.

Chris Hatherall assesses the players to look out for as Klopp begins to build the Liverpool of the future…

THE ONES YOU’VE NEVER HEARD OF — COMING TO A GAME NEAR YOU

Liverpool's likely lads: The next generation who could help prevent another 30-year title wait
Curtis Jones

There’s a group of high-profile youngsters tipped to make senior appearances in the run-in — especially now five substitutes can be used.

  • Curtis Jones: There’s a huge desire from fans at Anfield to see all-action midfielder Jones do well, not least because he’s one of their own. He grew up in the city and joined the club aged just nine, so there’s been no more popular sight at Anfield this season than the 19-year-old scoring a stunning winner against Everton in an FA Cup tie in January. He’s already made two Premier League appearances this season. He even captained the team, becoming Liverpool’s youngest ever skipper, against Shrewsbury.

  • Harvey Elliott: The 17-year-old isn’t ‘one of their own’ — he was snatched from Fulham after making his debut at Craven Cottage at the tender age of 15. But by the time he becomes a regular at Anfield, you suspect it will feel like he is. The winger bases his game on Mo Salah, so he couldn’t have a better mentor. He has already made seven appearances this season, including one in the Premier League. In fact, he made his debut in the competition last season.

  • Yasser Larouci: The left-back is so highly rated that Liverpool have held off recruiting a deputy for Andrew Robertson as they don’t want to hamper his progress. Larouci, 19, made his first team debut against Everton in the FA Cup in January.

  • Neco Williams: The 19-year-old full-back would probably be in the team already if he hadn’t Trent Alexander-Arnold ahead of him. He’s looked impressive in EFL Cup games and has made five appearances this season. He’s got some strong backing within the club, too, with former full-back Rob Jones saying: “I don’t usually like to say this, but I think he can definitely go all the way.”

  • Sepp van den Berg: The 18-year-old Dutch defender has already played in two EFL Cup ties this season.

  • Ki-Jana Hoever: A wonder-kid signed from Ajax, he became the club’s youngest ever FA Cup player when he faced Wolves in January 2019. Now 18, the centre-back is close to a call-up.

THE BOYS IN GREEN

  • Goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher is only 21-years-old but is already being tipped as the real thing by those in the know on Merseyside. He made first team appearances this season, impressing against the MK Dons, Arsenal and Shrewsbury in cup ties — including a memorable penalty shoot-out victory over the Gunners — and was even on the bench for the Uefa Super Cup final against Chelsea in Istanbul. Sadly, the ex-Ringmahon Rangers man has spent the last few months recovering from a serious knee injury, but he’s now on the way back. Preston, Sheffield Wednesday and Birmingham are all said to be interested in a loan next season, but he’ll be pushing Adrian all the way for a place on the bench at Anfield soon.

ALREADY FAMOUS, BUT YET TO MAKE THE GRADE

Liverpool's likely lads: The next generation who could help prevent another 30-year title wait
Rhian Brewster

  • Ben Woodburn: The striker is only 20 but he feels like he’s been on the verge of being Liverpool’s ‘next Michael Owen’ for years. Probably because he was making headlines at the age of 17. He made his debut way back in November 2016 and was the club’s youngest ever goalscorer that year. This season, he’s been on loan at Oxford United but has seen injuries hamper his progress, playing only 13 times. He has already broken both feet, on separate occasions, but don’t give up hope on him yet. He returned to action by scoring in a friendly for Oxford recently and is expected to star in the League 1 play-offs after his loan was extended. Oxford reportedly want to keep him next year too.

  • Rhian Brewster: Another 20-year-old striker famous before his time. Brewster helped England to win the 2017 Fifa U17 World Cup, including scoring hat-tricks in the quarter and semi-finals plus a goal against Spain in the final itself. Fast forward a few years and the youngster is now on loan at Swansea, on a half-season deal. He scored twice in the space of three minutes as the Swans beat Middlesbrough last weekend and now has six goals in 12 appearances so far. He could be back at Anfield soon.

THE LOANEES DESPERATE TO BE GIVEN A CHANCE

    Liverpool's likely lads: The next generation who could help prevent another 30-year title wait
    Harry Wilson

  • Taiwo Awoniyi: The Nigerian defender, now 22, is on loan at Mainz in Germany and because of work permit problems in the UK, he could stay there next year. In fact the player has already had six different loan spells since arriving at Anfield, so he is nearing the last-chance saloon.

  • Harry Wilson: A high profile loanee playing in the Premier League at Bournemouth, the Welsh winger is 23 and has made 27 appearances this season, scoring seven times. He’s only completed 90 minutes on three occasions but his quality from set pieces and free-kicks has made him a stand-out performer. Wilson has also spent loan spells at Hull and Derby.

  • Herbie Kane: A 21-year-old midfielder on loan at Hull in the Championship, having already made his Liverpool debut in the EFL Cup earlier in the campaign.

  • Anderson Arroyo: The 20-year-old Colombian centre-back has yet to feature for Liverpool but has done well on loan at Mlada Boleslav in the Czech Republic. He famously missed out on Liverpool’s pre-season tour to the US when he broke his foot.

  • Rhys Williams: The commanding centre-half is back at Melwood after his loan spell at National League Kidderminster Harriers was curtailed. He has been at Liverpool since he was nine years old and is now 18. Highly rated.

THE ACADEMY STARLETS

    Liverpool's likely lads: The next generation who could help prevent another 30-year title wait
    Layton Stewart

  • Jake Cain: The 18-year-old attacking midfielder scored eight goals and provided 11 assists in an impressive season for the U23s, his first at that level. He’s tipped to knock on the first team squad door next season.

  • Layton Stewart: A prolific striker at youth level, Layton scored 16 times this season and added seven assists. All that in just 23 games and at the age of 17. Only an ankle injury slowed him down in the end, but Liverpool Academy director Alex Inglethorpe is confident about his future. “He can be anything he wants to be,” he said.

  • Leighton Clarkson: Everyone is looking for a natural defensive midfielder, so Clarkson is being closely watched — and said to be near to a first-team call-up. He even contributed 13 assists, which shows his forward range of passing is as impressive as his defensive nous.

  • Tom Hill: Given a surprise call-up for an EFL Cup tie against Aston Villa, Hill is well known at Anfield. Jamie Carragher says he first saw him play at the age of six. An all-round attacker he scored eight goals this year at the age of 17.

  • James Norris: Another Scouser on the way up, like Curtis Jones. Norris, a talented left sided midfielder or winger, is only 17. Keep an eye on him — he’s already come off the bench to make his first team debut in the EFL Cup.

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