Who Are the 8 Academy Stars Called Up to Liverpool First-Team Amid Injury Crisis?

20 November 2020 08:00

Jurgen Klopp has had to get creative to put a squad together ahead of Sunday's clash with Leicester.

With as many as ten potential injuries heading into the Anfield blockbuster, the German has used the international break to assess his options.

Reports claimed on Thursday that eight academy players had been drafted in to first-team training and given the chance to earn their place in the depleted squad amid a testing schedule.

But who are the players in question? What what chance do they have of making the cut? And how do they take their coffee?

90min have you covered.

1. Vitezslav Jaros (GK)

If you ever hear Klopp drop a passing reference to 'Billy the Kid' in a press conference, the likelihood is that he is not on about the infamous 19th century outlaw, but the towering French defender who would already have made his mark on the first team if not for injuries.

Standing at 6ft 4in, the 18-year-old matches Virgil van Dijk in stature, and he has already made a lasting impression on Liverpool's established stars, according to James Pearce.

He was ahead of the likes of Nat Phillips and Rhys Williams in the pecking order, having featured heavily in pre-season before an injury put him out of contention. It now it seems as if his long-awaited chance could be just round the corner.

5. Leighton Clarkson (CM)

Clarkson could be a successor to Fabinho or Thiago | Gareth Copley/Getty Images

The Liverpool Echo have framed Clarkson as a long-term successor to Fabinho, so it makes sense that with the Brazilian dragged out of position for the forseeable future, Klopp and his coaching team are taking a closer look.

The 19-year-old is regularly called up to first-team training when things are stretched and has already appeared twice for the first-team - in last season's cup ties with Aston Villa and Shrewsbury. He also scored against Blackburn Rovers in a friendly just before the Premier League resumed.

He is different to the Reds' current midfield options, coming closer to Thiago than anyone else in terms of his skillset, and is believed to be a favourite of assistant manager Pep Lijnders.

6. Jake Cain (CM)

A Liverpool player since he was nine, Wigan-born Cain brings a lot of unique attributes to the table. Primarily an attacking midfielder, he can play anywhere across the midfield or forward lines, and stands out with his sublime left foot.

The 19-year-old formed a wonderful midfield trio along with Clarkson and Curtis Jones in the under-23 side and isn't viewed as being too far behind the latter in his development. That explains why he has been on the bench for every Champions League game so far this season.

7. Luis Longstaff (Winger)

Liverpool signed Longstaff from Newcastle in 2015, but it's just a coincidence that he shares a name with midfield duo Sean and Matty.

The Darlington native is described by Liverpool as an 'exciting winger' though played up front in the 5-0 EFL Cup thrashing against Aston Villa last season, and models his game on Roberto Firmino.

“I look at Firmino and he is a player that I take a lot of inspiration from," he said previously. "I have tried to model my game similar to how he plays. I’ve had a couple of times training with him and when you get that chance to go up there, you’ve just got to watch the people that play in your position."

8. Paul Glatzel (CF)

Glatzel has had a tough time of it but looks on the verge of bouncing back | James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images

Of all the promising talent here, Glatzel's promise is the most easily quantifiable. You just need to look at his ludicrous strike rate at youth level - 28 goals in the 2018/19 season said it all before injury derailed his 2019/20.

We'll leave Jordan Henderson, who spoke to the club's programme back in July, to do the rest of the selling.

"I don’t want to dwell on Paul’s setbacks as I’m sure everyone knows the bad luck he had," Henderson said. "But a player is defined by how he reacts to these blows and Paul has the mentality that says to all of us he is going to have a big career.

"He loves to score goals and seeing him back in training and looking sharp is magic. 

"Paul epitomises the attitude and character needed. He’s an example to a lot of the young players. He has never felt sorry for himself, is committed to making sure he can be the best he can be, and he works as hard as any player I’ve ever seen to give himself the chance to fulfil his potential.

"I hope Paul is as proud of himself for how he’s conducted himself in the face of setbacks, as we are of him."

Source: 90min