Barry Lewtas senses real excitement among his players to showcase their talents when Manchester United visit the Kirkby Academy on Saturday morning.

The young Reds made a great start to 2018-19 by hitting six goals in last weekend’s opening-day win at Sunderland.

Ahead of the meeting with United - which you can watch live on LFCTV and LFCTV GO, kick-off 11am BST - read U18s boss Lewtas’ thoughts on their encouraging beginning to the season and the anticipation for a crunch clash...

On a perfect start to 2018-19 after the opening-day 6-1 win at Sunderland…

It was a good start. The boys have had a good pre-season when we were away in Hungary, Bratislava and Germany. I was really excited going into the game because I knew we had a good game in us and we played ever so well. We put them under pressure really early and it became a convincing win. It is just that, a good start, and hopefully we can carry it on as the season progresses.

On the quality of the goals scored by his team at the Academy of Light…

There were some really good goals, some really good build-up play and some lovely interchange and forward combination play. There was lots of stuff I would like to say we have been working on but sometimes the goals come down to individual quality as well, so that’s a credit to the boys.

LFCTV GO: Highlights from the 6-1 win at Sunderland

On the new-look U18s team for 2018-19 after many of the youngsters made their debuts last season…

Last year was great that Steven Gerrard put trust in a few of the U16 lads and played them. They did ever so well because it was a really tough time in the season. Now the level of expectation goes up, they are part of the team. They know what is expected and I’m looking forward to the season for them.

On knowing a lot of the players after coaching them at U16 level last season…

Maybe I know some of them too well [laughs]! The second-year boys we have, I worked with them at U15 level and funnily enough when I first joined this club our current first-years I worked with at U12 level. As a group of players they are probably the group I know well so that’s great for me. I know how they tick and what buttons to press and when to press them. That has made it a lot easier for me to settle in.

On the potential of forward Paul Glatzel following his double at Sunderland…

Paul always shows the quality he has got. Now he is back from injury he is desperate to stay fit and perform. Sometimes people can have reputations and that is great because he has done ever so well in the youth ranks, but now he wants to perform week in, week out and be a consistent feature of the team.

On the new addition of midfielder Matteo Ritaccio…

Matteo has come over from a club in New York. He is a midfield player and he played in a number of different positions at his previous club. We see him at the moment as a central midfield player. He has good technical qualities. In terms of his ability to control a game he has showed promise and he has that bit of bite that you need in the middle as well. It will be tough for him because coming over, the level is different over here so he is probably not used to the intensity of training in terms of day to day and what he is up against. I think he will know as the months go by how tough it has been on him but he has made a good start to the season.

On the first home game of the new season against Manchester United in front of the live LFCTV cameras…

I couldn’t have picked a better one! It’s always a good fixture at any level, and it’s what all the kids want: to play in this game. We are really excited and it’s great that it is so early in the season. It’s good for us that the game comes on the back of a number of good performances. Hopefully we can perform again, I’m sure we will and we want to make it a good morning for us. We had some really good games against them at U16 level. Manchester United are a top club as well who have a history of producing top players. The group of players they put out on Saturday will be another good group so there will be plenty of needle out there but it’s important we keep 11 players on the pitch this time around! We want to win and we want to do well but we want to perform well and make sure our level of performance is what it needs to be. If we can do that then hopefully the result will take care of itself.

On the importance of keeping 11 players on the pitch after the last three league meetings at U18 level have seen the Reds have a player sent off each time…

That is a great lesson for the boys to learn in terms of temperament and just making the right decisions, especially when it comes to making tackles and the one-v-one duels. They must keep their discipline and it’s a great experience to learn at this level, especially if they are fortunate to move up through the age groups. They don’t want to make those mistakes at Old Trafford or Anfield so we will certainly be passing that message on for Saturday morning.

On following in the footsteps of Steven Gerrard to take charge of the U18s…

It’s a great privilege to have the role. Hopefully I can continue with the good work that Steven did, which was to carry on the good work that Critch [Neil Critchley] had done before with the U18s. I thought the boys were excellent last year in terms of the level of performance and especially there were some really good games here on a Friday night and Saturday morning. I’ve got my ideas as well but for me it’s trying to add value to the group and the individual and hopefully we will have a successful season.

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NEIL CRITCHLEY

Critchley eyeing another memorable Anfield night