Ahead of Liverpool U23s' Premier League 2 opener against Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday, Neil Critchley has praised the attitude and application of his new-look squad.

A number of youngsters have made the step up from the 2018-19 FA Youth Cup-winning team, with several catching the eye of the Academy coaches throughout pre-season.

Kick-off against Spurs at the Academy is at 2pm BST and Critchley is hoping the young Reds can return to winning ways after the 3-2 loss to Oldham Athletic in the EFL Trophy on Wednesday.

Read on for our match preview with the U23s' boss...

On the PL2 opener v Tottenham…

It’s a really good game for us to look forward to. We have just played Tottenham in the U19 competition in Germany when they beat us in the semi-final on penalties. We have always had good games against Tottenham in the past few seasons, lots of goals, chances at either end, two teams who like to play attacking football, so hopefully it will make for a really good first game of the season for us.

Highlights of Oldham 3-2 LFC U21s

On playing the majority of home games at the Academy this season…

It’s our home and it feels like home. I think we are very fortunate with the facilities we have got here. I’ve said it before but I’m biased with the environment that we have here and the front pitch: I think it’s one of, if not the, best pitch and surroundings in the country. I love playing here, I really look forward to it and I'm sure the players do too.

On this season's U23s squad featuring many of last term's Youth Cup winners...

They have stepped up and that has been the nucleus of our squad so far in pre-season. Some of those boys already had exposure to playing for the U23s last season but you can see that they are eager and hanging on every word you say. They are ready, they want to learn and want to get better. I have to say they were really impressive in pre-season.

On a number of Academy players getting first-team opportunities during pre-season…

It was great for them to get some exposure to being around that first-team environment. They saw at first hand the work that is required to be a top player. Hopefully they have taken something from that, I’m sure they have, and when I get a chance to speak to them that’s what I'll be asking them. I hope they had their eyes open and listened to every word that was said and I hope it will be a huge benefit to them and their careers going forward.

On being Liverpool U23s manager with a constantly changing squad…

It’s something I’m used to and I honestly don’t see it as a problem. I get to work with good players and whoever is in the squad I think we are very fortunate with the type of person we get to work with. The attitude and their professionalism is spot on and it makes my job easier. I honestly don’t see it as an issue and I look forward to the challenges. Every manager or coach has different challenges and I’m no different. I just see it as part of my job. That’s why I’m here, to try to help players as best I can and that is ultimately what it comes down to.

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NEIL CRITCHLEY

Neil Critchley on EFL Trophy: 'This is so important for our players' development'