Liverpool U23s take on MTK Budapest in Hungary on Tuesday night with boss Neil Critchley challenging his young squad to express themselves against strong opposition.
Together with the U18s, the young Reds are in Budapest for a week-long pre-season tour as they aim to get in the best possible shape for 2017-18.
The U23s face MTK Budapest FC with kick-off set for 6pm local time, and the game will be played at their Hidegkuti Nandor Stadion, which only opened last year.
Critchley insists his side are thoroughly looking forward to the first game of their tour.
“It’s a step up for some of the U18 boys [who will play tonight for the U23s] because they are not used to playing against men so that physicality brings about different problems and a different test, but our boys are ready for it,” he told Liverpoolfc.com.
“I believe they will play a mixture of their first team and reserve team and they have just started their league season.
“They moved into a brand new stadium last season and it looks fantastic. With the weather over here and the heat, it’s something we are not used to so we will have to manage the game, but as always we will concentrate on the things that we are good at and hopefully we can take our training into the game.
“It will bring a different type of test for us but one we will relish and over the pre-season the games will step up and get a bit tougher, but that’s why we are here and why we are at Liverpool.”
During the trip the players will be put through their paces with training sessions, and Critchley has been delighted with the response in the hot conditions.
“It beats some of the Kirkby wind and rain sometimes!” he joked.
“It is hot but we’ll adjust some of the training times and make sure the boys recover properly - recovery in between sessions and games is going to be vital.
“We had a good first training session and you could see the energy and the enthusiasm amongst the boys.
“When you are playing in nice weather on nice pitches that gives an extra spring in the step and I thought it was a fantastic first session.
“Their attitude and their application and approach has been top drawer.
“We are very fortunate and very privileged to be over here [in Budapest]. We have got some fantastic facilities and you only have to look at the pitches, the gym, the swimming pool, our rooms and the food that we’ve had – it’s top level.
“We have to make full advantage and full use of that and it’s about creating habits and creating an elite lifestyle and showing the boys what being a top professional is all about.”
Critchley also spoke about working closely at the Academy with Reds legend Steven Gerrard as he begins life as the club’s new U18 boss.
“From what I’ve seen so far and what I’ve gathered he’s thoroughly enjoying the task of taking the U18s,” he added.
“If I can help and assist in any way and if he can help and assist me in any way, then that’s what happens.
“Alex [Inglethorpe] creates that culture at the club and the coaches work together but Steven Gerrard’s presence on the training pitch, in dressing rooms, in team meetings to add what he can add is invaluable and it is inspirational at times.”
Click here to read our latest Academy column about the trip to Budapest.