Neil Critchley admitted Liverpool U23s were dealt a harsh lesson as they lost their opening Premier League 2 fixture of the season 4-0 at home to Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday.

The Reds, who fielded the likes of Rhian Brewster, Curtis Jones, Ryan Kent and Harvey Elliott created some good opportunities but a combination of not taking them and being punished on the counter-attack cost them dear.

Read on for Critchley’s thoughts on the game, the loan move for Nat Phillips and the permanent departure of one of the most popular figures in Kirkby in George Johnston….

On a frustrating way to start the new Premier League 2 season…

We got off to the worst possible start and it was a poor goal to concede. We gradually got better and had a couple of decent chances. Their goalkeeper pulled off a fantastic save from Rhian and Elijah Dixon-Bonner had a really good chance with a header which he probably should have done better with. At least he showed what we have been talking to him about and that is getting into the box. Elijah had another good chance that he missed in the second half. We were on top at 1-0 down but we couldn’t get that goal and they got it and then our ending to the game was really disappointing to be honest. The old saying goes unfortunately and goals change games. Tottenham have got some really good players and we know they can hurt you on the break. I think if we had scored to make it 1-1 then I honestly do think the game would have been different.

On a chance for his team to respond in their next PL2 away to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on August 19…

It’s a ground I’ve never been to so I’m looking forward to that myself. It will be a tough game and similar to Tottenham because we know we will be playing against good players. We know in moments during the game if we don’t defend well we will concede goals. We have got to be harder to beat and be more clinical in front of goal. We have a young group this year and it’s tough physically and mentally and they do need to learn quick. The best players do learn quick so there won’t be any let up from us and from me. We will dust ourselves down, clear our heads and have a good week of training going into the Chelsea game.

On Phillips making a temporary move to Stuttgart in Germany…

It’s a great move for Nat. They are a really big club who will be looking to get promotion back to the Bundesliga. They get 50,000 fans in for their home games and it’s a great move for him. It’s a fantastic life experience and I hope he can stay fit and show the player that he could become. He has shown it here it’s just the fact that he hasn’t had the opportunity to stay fit for long enough. We wish Nat all the best and really hope it goes well for him.

On the permanent departure of his former U23s captain Johnston to Feyenoord…

It’s an unbelievable opportunity for George and it is fully deserved. He has been fantastic to work with and I will miss him on a personal level as well as the football side. I think George has proven himself to be a top player and a fantastic person over the last two to three years working with him from the U18s through to the U23s. We will continue to support him and watch his progress from afar. We will be in touch with him and I really hope it goes well for him because he deserves it.

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Liverpool U23s v Tottenham Hotspur, Premier League 2

Match report: LFC U23s fall to Spurs defeat on opening day