Yan Dhanda is eager to continue his goalscoring habit after scoring twice for Liverpool U23s in the opening weeks of the season.
The versatile forward, who joined the club from West Bromwich Albion in 2013, has thrived as a member of Neil Critchley’s inventive, attacking line-up so far this campaign.
For Dhanda, the rewards in recent games are all the sweeter because of the journey that preceded them – including a bout of homesickness during his early days with the Reds.
“To get here and play for Liverpool made me so excited. I couldn’t describe how I was feeling, but not going home to my mum, dad and brother is tough,” he reflects in the latest The Academy show.
“I just promised my mum I would make her proud and it would all be worth it. People were saying time would make it easier and, to be fair, it did for me. After a few months it got easier and I was flying and scoring goals.”
The 18-year-old has risen through all levels of the youth setup in Kirkby.
Now established with the U23s, who have won six straight Premier League 2 matches so far in 2017-18, Dhanda has set specific objectives for himself to not only contribute to the team but adapt to the demands that come right from the top.
“I’ve set myself a target that I want to continue to create goals, but to also score as many as I can as well because it makes me feel good and gives me confidence,” the forward continues.
“I like to create goals if someone is in a better position than me but I like scoring as well because you can’t get a much better feeling than that.
“I think when I was younger I didn’t work as hard as I do now. Now I give everything, every game, to work hard and to press, because with Jürgen Klopp in charge of the first team you won’t play for them if you don’t do that.
“I want to stay injury-free this year, keep playing well for the U23s and finally if I get the chance, to train at Melwood.”
Dhanda enjoyed glimpses of the first-team environment when he travelled to training camps in La Manga and Tenerife with the senior Reds last season – and the experiences were inspirational.
“Training with those sorts of players, you don’t realise until you see them and think ‘wow, that’s Coutinho or wow, that’s Mane’. It’s helped me seeing them on and off the pitch so much,” he recalls.
“Things like what they eat and how they recover, they are straight in the ice bath no complaining and players like Lallana eat incredibly well. It’s clear his diet is what gives him the edge. The proteins and the carbohydrates give his body the best chance to perform and the fans love him because of how much energy he has.
“It’s not a coincidence why he is so good at Anfield and players like Coutinho are even better on the training field than on the pitch. I just want to be like them really.”