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Rodgers in no rush for Hughes

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21 Nov 2013 16:31:55

Rodgers in no rush for Hughes

Manager Brendan Rodgers insists younger players have to be given time to develop and being fast-tracked into Liverpool's first team is not always beneficial.

With changes afoot at the club's academy - Press Association Sport understands director Frank McParland and head of coaching Rodolfo Borrell have both been removed from their posts - there will be a renewed focus on the Reds' Kirkby production line.

But Rodgers extended his view on younger players further afield, citing the case of Derby's promising teenager Will Hughes.

The 18-year-old, who scored his first goal for England's Under-21s in their 9-0 demolition of San Marino in midweek, has been continually linked with a move to Anfield.

Rodgers took the unprecedented step of addressing the speculation as he felt it was becoming unfair on the teenager.

"I never normally say anything about players but I do really feel for this young guy," said the Reds boss.

"It is something which has been ongoing and I don't normally comment on speculation but (I will) because I have the interest of the player at heart.

"This is a kid who if he picks up the paper every weekend he is linked with coming to Liverpool.

"This is a very talented young player that either a person or a group of people aren't doing him any favours whatsoever by constantly linking him with coming to Liverpool.

"I read we had put in a bid or something had been agreed and there is nothing further from the truth. There is no bid, there has been nothing.

"This is a young kid learning the game, he is at an outstanding club at Derby, he has a great manager there and we sent one of our young players (Andre Wisdom) there to develop and learn.

"I think Will Hughes is a wonderful young talent who just needs to play football and for me he is probably at the best place he could be.

"We are always looking for talent - young players, senior players, and he along with many other players is probably one we've looked at."

Liverpool have declined to comment on the situation at their academy, although it is understood McParland, previously the club's chief scout, and Borrell, a former coach at Barcelona's La Masia academy, have been sacked.

Both were remnants of the Rafael Benitez era, having been appointed to the academy in 2009, and were perceived to be doing a good job.

Last season no fewer than seven youngsters - Suso, Wisdom, Adam Morgan, Samed Yesil, Jerome Sinclair, Conor Coady and Jordon Ibe - made their first team debuts.

This season the likes of Wisdom, Coady, Suso and another former academy graduate, Jack Robinson, have been sent out on loan to gain more experience.

Rodgers did not expand on what was happening at the academy but did say he had kept a close eye on things a few miles up the road from the first team's Melwood training base.

"I've been heavily involved within the academy," he said.

"My first look is always within, whether it's for players or staff.

"The biggest thing I can give people is an opportunity and then it is a case of taking that opportunity and giving young players hope.

"A lot of my life was spent in youth development, I was an academy director at Reading so I understand all facets of development.

"It is something which is very important to us and it is something we will never change and I will always look for.

"It is very difficult for young players now but they will always get a chance and opportunity here if they are professional and have shown that quality.

"If it is not at that early stage - we had players (last season) at 17 playing in the team which is really unprecedented in the Premier League but there will be a pathway here for all the players.

"If they breakthrough early and can't sustain that can be natural and they may need a loan period.

"As long as they are ready by 20, 21 then that is what the academy is all about - a place to learn and develop and ultimately get through into the first team.

"It is why we have invested so much in it, why we put so much work into it, in order to get the players through."


PA

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