Match preview: U23s ready for season opener against Swansea

Neil Critchley takes charge of Liverpool U23s for the first time in Premier League 2 as the young Reds face the long trip to Swansea City on Friday night – a match you can watch exclusively live on LFCTV.

With Steven Gerrard taking charge of the U18s, Critchley has made the step to U23s boss.

Ahead of their season opener against the Welsh outfit, here is our match preview.

Where is the game being played? The match is at Swansea City’s Landore Training Ground. Kick-off is at 7pm BST.

How can I watch the game? We are showing this game live on LFCTV and LFCTV GO with our coverage starting at 6.30pm.

Last season head-to-head: Swansea City are newly promoted to Premier League 2 Division 1, after winning the Division 2 title last season, 11 points clear of their rivals.

They have a Liverpool connection on their coaching staff in Cameron Toshack, son of legendary Kop striker John.

View from the manager, Neil Critchley

“We are thoroughly looking forward to the season ahead. It’s been slightly different working with the U23s than the U18s but so far it has been really enjoyable.

“The players have been fantastic on a daily basis and the support I get from the staff has made it a relatively comfortable transition so far.

“You are trying to give players a pathway into senior football and that can be different for every player, there’s not a blueprint for development, so we have to provide opportunities and different pathways for those players.

“We want to win games and we want our U23 team to look like a Liverpool U23 team working very closely towards the first-team philosophy, but if we were to have a standard season but we had one or two players make it to Melwood and stay there, then we would be happy.

“If we won Premier League 2 but none of our players progressed to Melwood then I would see that as a failure.”

Looking ahead to the opening fixture at Swansea, Critchley knows his charges can’t wait to get the season under way.

“The first game of the season is always an exciting time. We are well prepared physically and we are ready to go.

“Swansea City had an unbelievable last season, winning the league quite comfortably.

“They have got some good players, we are expecting a really tough game, but hopefully it will be us that can come out on top on Friday.”

View from the player, Corey Whelan

“We’ve had a very good pre-season and we are all ready to go and can’t wait for the first game of the season.

“Neil Critchley handed me the captain’s armband for the pre-season games and I have to say it was a very proud moment for me.

“To captain any Liverpool team is an achievement in itself and I was very grateful.

“I’ve worked with Neil for a long time now, even going back to my early days when he was coaching me at Crewe. He’s a great manager and all of the lads have a lot of respect for him.

“We are expecting a tough test at Swansea but, to be fair, that is the same when you play any team in Premier League 2.

“I think it’s very important to get off to a good start and we are confident we can play well and get a good result.”