Sergio Busquets, Robbie Fowler and Paul Scholes are amongst the extensive list of stars who started out by playing in the Milk Cup during their early days.

Two squads of Liverpool youngsters are currently competing in the prestigious tournament over in Northern Ireland - and caught up with U17s boss Mike Garrity at the team hotel in Limavady.

Mike explained the importance of the trip in giving the players a taste of what it's like to travel, play in front of large crowds and experience the Reds' extensive fanbase.

He also reflected on the tournament's rich history and the players who have graced the competition. You can read the full interview below.

Mike, tell us how much you know about the Milk Cup...

This tournament is really well-known throughout youth football. The competition has been running for 31 years and that just shows how successful it's been. I went along to a welcome dinner on Sunday, and in a presentation, we heard the names of players who have previously played here – the likes of Busquets and so many others. Stepping off the bus on Sunday and seeing the people in the streets shows you how well supported this tournament is in Northern Ireland.

Did you get the sense that the players were slightly in awe of the scenes that greeted them at the welcome parade?

I think we were all a bit blown away, to be honest. The conditions were torrential, but to see the amount of people on the streets, and the amount of people wearing Liverpool shirts, was just incredible. It shows how well supported the tournament is by the community. I think the players and staff alike were surprised by the support.

Northern Ireland, like many countries around the world, is a hotbed for Liverpool support. The bond was strengthened by Brendan Rodgers' arrival last summer. How has he been to work with?

Brendan often invites us down to watch training, and so we went over to Melwood a couple of weeks ago and he was fantastic with the boys. He was listening to them and then passing on his wisdom and advice to the players. It's priceless for them and for us as staff, because while the boys are learning from him, we're learning from him as well. So anytime the manager can pass on advice to the players, it can only be a good thing for us.

How much will coming over to Northern Ireland for the Milk Cup benefit our players?

What's really good for the boys' development is the different styles of opposition we're going to be playing against. It will test them. Playing in front of the crowds will be invaluable. If they want to go and play in the first team and be on the big stage, they need to perform in front of big crowds.

Tell us a bit more about the U17s squad which you'll take charge of during the tournament.

We're a really young squad at the moment. We've got a lot of first-year scholars in there and there's a couple of schoolboys who we have with us. But we've had a couple of our boys who have been involved with the U21s, who have just come back from a tour in Ireland, which is great for them. I think for each individual's development, it can only be beneficial. Whether they come here or whether they play with the U21s, it will only help them.

One player who will have been gutted to have missed out is Jerome Sinclair - tell us about the problem he encountered.

I don't know all the details because it's early days, but Jerome picked up a slight injury late last week in training, which was a bit disappointing and it meant he couldn't come on this tour. It's disappointing for him and ourselves. We were excited to see him play because he has started the season really well. But he's still only very young - he's still at U17 level. And I'm sure he'll have a lot of time to progress.

Have you set any targets for the players this week?

We had a meeting with the players and the message was that we are still in pre-season, so we're still looking to improve our fitness levels. We see this tournament as another extension of their development. Even though there is an edge to it, with the Milk Cup being a highly competitive tournament, it is still another training week for us. It's nice to get away from the Academy and get out into different surroundings. We'll be treating this as good development for the boys' progression.