Andrew Firth has spent the last four days fending off shots from none other than Philippe Coutinho - so there's little wonder he's got a skip in his step ahead of today's U18s opener against Arsenal.

Firth joined Academy teammates at the club's West Derby base this week, where the likes of Coutinho, Kolo Toure and Iago Aspas were busy preparing for their Barclays Premier League clash with Stoke on Saturday.

For the 16-year-old, who arrived at Liverpool four years ago, it was the perfect way for the Reds' youngsters to prepare for the new campaign.

He told Liverpoolfc.com: "I've been up at Melwood all week and it was a really good experience.

"It was great training with the first-team players, getting some pointers from them and seeing how quick it is and the level you have got to get to.

"Everyone who was there was keen to impress, so I think that stepped us up a level. We trained with players like Coutinho and Toure and their experience and their quality helped lift us. It's been a really good week."

The U18s kick off their season with a clash away to the Gunners at 11am today.

Last season's FA Youth Cup semi-finalists have been in great form during pre-season with three straight wins over Derby, Birmingham and Leicester.

"I can't wait for the season to get underway," said Firth. "It's been a good pre-season, we've all looked sharp and got some good results and so hopefully we can take it into the Arsenal game on Friday.

"We've played three tough games and I thought we did really well. We went behind a couple of times, but we showed great character to fight back well and hopefully we can carry that into the season.

"Arsenal away first game is not the easiest of starts, but then we've got Everton the week after. So it's going to be a big test for the lads. Let's hope we get off to a good start with a good performance and hopefully the good results will follow.

"I think the fact that we have a very young team this season will help us because we have got some good young lads in the side who are raw, fresh and eager to impress.

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"So hopefully we can use our strengths and get the best out of the situation."

Anyone who has watched Firth play at youth level in recent seasons will know he is a very vocal 'keeper, who loves to marshal his defenders and is never shy to let them know if they've stepped out of line.

So can we expect a bit more of that from him when the season gets underway this afternoon?

"I think you'll find I'm quite a loud person," laughed Firth. "I don't shut up much - but that's just who I am. I like to be heard and I like to communicate, so hopefully it works.

"I think we've got a solid defence, though. We've got some great players in there and they are all physical lads, who can throw their weight around, but they are also good players so hopefully we'll make the most of it."