Academy director Alex Inglethorpe has explained the influence Trent Alexander-Arnold's progress is having on Liverpool's aspiring youngsters in Kirkby.

Former U18s captain Alexander-Arnold helped his boyhood club win a sixth European Cup in June in his second successive Champions League final appearance.

Inglethorpe opened up on how the Reds right-back's achievements have instilled further hope in those who want to emulate him, during a fascinating chat with Academy graduate Neil Mellor.

He also discussed the strong relationship between the Academy and first-team manager Jürgen Klopp, and much more - and you can read the first part of the interview below...

On the FA Youth Cup win over Manchester City last season…

It was a nice adventure for them all. They had to ride their luck at times and, typical in cup competition, there were moments you think you are going out. We had a very difficult game against Portsmouth early on, they came back to 2-2 and if it had gone to extra-time they were looking like the favourites to win it. We managed to find a way and I think that was probably similar to the final. We managed to find a way of staying in the game and we deserved to take it to a penalty shootout and we deserved to win it. But I think the real successes and relate far better is someone like Trent [Alexander-Arnold]. He is someone who has gone through the age groups and they [the young players] can see him playing in consecutive Champions League finals, they can see him playing every week in the Premier League and they can see him making a difference. That is tangible for a young kid to look at think, ‘That’s something that I hopefully can do and something I will inspire to do.’

On the impact Alexander-Arnold has had on the Academy hopefuls…

The thing I found interesting with Trent is that when he first broke into the team and when he came back to the Academy, the young players were really excited to see him but you kind of feel they are hoping it’s Mo Salah. Trent is really good and he has helped us out with the signings of the new U8s the last few years. He walked into the room [the day after the 4-0 win over Barcelona at Anfield] and you could see and feel there was a real buzz among the players and they wouldn’t have wanted anyone else there. If they could have picked any player they would have picked Trent. I think that’s a mark of how far he has come in terms of the thinking of the supporters and the young players here.

LFCTV GO: The Academy Show

On the advice he gives to the younger age groups at the Academy…

That’s the easy part for me because that’s almost like we’ve got to be the best Sunday league club. The boys are already going to have their dreams so that’s the time when we’ve got to become the best ever Sunday league club. No real pressure of anything other than going out and having fun and falling in love with the football. As they get older, inevitably the challenges will increase and the pressure will increase but that doesn’t have to happen until quite a bit later in their age at all I think.

I was talking with our head of Academy football operations, Nick Marshall, who used to be academy manager at Nottingham Forest. Nick is a really good member of staff here and myself, Steve Heighway and him were talking about players that we have worked with in the past. Nick talked about some of the Nottingham Forest players, I spoke about a few of the Tottenham players like Harry Winks, Harry Kane, Andros Townsend, and then Steve talks about the players he has worked with. It’s a game you really want to play with Steve because you quickly realise when he chucks in names like Robbie Fowler, Michael Owen, Jamie Carragher, Steven Gerrard, Steve McManaman.

The point of the discussion was: at what age do you first know a player will definitely make it? I’d be a liar if I said the likes of Trent and Kane because I think when you get to 16 and 17, usually you see characteristics when you think, ‘OK, they are going to be a Premier League player.’ The earliest out of all those players that someone could say, hand on heart, he’s going to be a player was aged 14 and that was Owen. Steve said that was the earliest he has ever known, which probably follows suit as he was playing in a World Cup at 17, 18. To turn around to a five or six-year-old and tell them they will be a Premier League player is ridiculous.

On having a strong relationship with Klopp…

There’s definitely a trust here to provide players and, touch wood, there’s not been any complaints about the quality of the players and the quality of the boys who are going up to Melwood. The manager has been very complimentary and I think there has to be a trust from our side that when they are up there they are being taken care of with the work that is being done and you can see they are developing. You can see that whether it’s Curtis Jones, Rhian Brewster, Nat Phillips, Trent, Harry Wilson, they get better and they improve. Why wouldn’t they improve? Because they have got, in my opinion, the best manager in the world looking after them.

On his hopes and ambitions for the Academy this season…

The same as every year, I want players in the first team. No-one is ever saying to me we’ve got to win the U23s league, the U18s league, FA Youth Cup, UEFA Youth League. The only question I ever get asked is: who is next? So the answer to this question is hopefully to provide them with players that are interesting enough that they want them to train with the first-team squad, develop and become part of that first-team squad.

On the tough challenge of being a first-team regular…

The boy Trent is doing alright at the minute in terms of establishing himself and he’s getting closer to becoming an ever-present. The challenge is finding a way of getting into the team and staying in. First and foremost, they have got to take a world-class player’s shirt off him and then they have got to find a way of keeping it. Easier to say but harder to do, that’s the challenge.

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