Liverpool youth team prodigy Raheem Sterling could become the club’s youngest first-team player against Sparta Prague in the Europa League tomorrow.
The forward, who only turned 16 in December, is a surprise inclusion in the squad which flew out to the Czech Republic today ahead of the last-32 first-leg tie.
Sterling, who scored five goals in Monday’s 9-0 FA Youth Cup demolition of Southend, has been rewarded for his considerable progress at the club’s Kirkby academy.
Should he feature against Sparta aged just 16 years and 71 days he will break by some margin the previous record set by fellow Under-18 team-mate Jack Robinson – who made his Barclays Premier League debut against Hull last May aged 16 years and 250 days.
Sterling is still at school, attending Rainhill High in Prescot, but is able to travel to Prague as it is currently the half-term holidays.
The England youth international joined Liverpool’s academy last February after a £500,000 move from QPR.
He came off the bench in a pre-season friendly against Borussia Moenchengladbach and last month was officially given a first-team squad number.
Sterling is one of a number of youngsters in the squad, with John Flanagan, Conor Coady, Robinson and Tom Ince all included.
Liverpool’s £35m club record-signing Andy Carroll has also travelled but as he is still recovering from a thigh problem it is for training purposes only.
Midfielder Christian Poulsen misses the clash at the Stadion Letna after his wife went into labour.
However, Joe Cole returns from a knee injury and fellow midfielder Raul Meireles has recovered from the sickness that saw him withdrawn at half-time against Wigan on Saturday.
Team from: Reina, Jones, Gulacsi, Johnson, Flanagan, Aurelio, Robinson, Kyrgiakos, Wilson, Carragher, Kelly, Skrtel, Meireles, Cole, Maxi, Jovanovic, Lucas, Coady, Ince, Sterling, Pacheco, Kuyt, Ngog.