Steven Gerrard has admitted he's starting to get weekly headaches on a Friday... but he's more than happy to contend with the ailment given he feels it's a symptom of the strength of his Liverpool U18s squad.

The young Reds are unbeaten so far this season and sit proudly at the top of the U18s Premier League.

On Wednesday, Gerrard’s team face Tottenham Hotspur away in the Premier League Cup quarter-final, while their FA Youth Cup fourth-round tie with Arsenal - which will be staged at Anfield - is also looming on January 20.

Competition for a place in Gerrard's XI is intense - but it's a situation the manager is delighted with.

He told “It was very tough for the first five to 10 games of the season because we played every game without a [recognised] right-back.

"We have had to use different systems and formations, we’ve given people opportunities out of position and the lads have had to be professional and do a job for us.

"Now this is the first time since I took this job that now I’ve got headaches on a Friday to pick the team, but that’s a nice problem and we’ve said that to the lads.

"We’ve got Tottenham coming up in the Premier League Cup quarter-final, Arsenal in the FA Youth Cup at Anfield and the U19s UEFA Youth League starting up again in February, so we’ve told the players you are playing for places now.

"If you want one of the shirts, one to 11, you have to show us on a daily basis, and I think that’s why we got the performance we did against Blackburn because everyone wants to be in the XI for these big games coming forward, which is nice to see.”

The U18s made a sparkling return to action in their first game of 2018, beating Blackburn 6-1 on Saturday. 

Unsurprisingly, their impressive display pleased the boss.

Gerrard reflected: “I was very proud of the lads on Saturday and thought the performance was very strong.

“As a coach you always wonder when you’ve given them a break over Christmas what type of mentality you will get in your first game back, away at Blackburn on a cold morning and the pitch wasn’t great, but they were absolutely superb all over the pitch.

“I thought our first-half performance was probably our strongest of the season in terms of energy and creation.”

Another boost for Gerrard during Saturday’s win was the return of right-back Neco Williams, who played his first minutes of the season after recovering from a back problem.

Williams appeared on the hour mark and the U18s boss is pleased to have him available for selection again.

“Neco is a great kid and he played very well for the U18s last season as a 15/16-year-old, so I’m expecting big things from him in the back end of the season,” Gerrard said.

“He was unfortunate to get a pars stress fracture in his back on day one of pre-season. We all turned up for pre-season, he tied his boots and within 100 metres of a jog he got the injury, which has seen him miss the first part of the season.

“At the moment we are not really judging Neco because he just needs to get fit, stay healthy and get minutes.

“He is certainly in my plans moving forward. I absolutely love the kid and the player, and the sooner we get him back 100 per cent fully fit the better we will all be.”

A key component of the unbeaten run so far this season has been the midfield partnership of Edvard Tagseth and Elijah Dixon-Bonner.

While the likes of Liam Millar, Curtis Jones and Adam Lewis have caught the eye with their performances going forward, the consistency in the middle of the park of Tagseth and Dixon-Bonner has also buoyed Gerrard.

“I can’t praise them two enough, to be honest - and they are so important to us in this system,” he stated.

“They are very consistent for the team and in the system we have been using of late, they have been putting all of the fires out and doing all the competing all over the pitch, winning first and second balls, putting all the tackles in, doing all of the box-to-box running.

 “I think the lads like Curtis Jones, Liam Millar, Glen McAuley, Rafael Camacho appreciate them - all the people who are getting all of the headlines, if you like.

“We always make it nice and clear in the dressing room that those players wouldn’t be able to do that type of stuff on the pitch without them two.

“Even going further back, Elijah and Eddie give the protection to the back three, so you need all the cogs in the machine to be doing their jobs, but those two are certainly delivering with their performances.”