The pressure of needing to win is a feeling Liverpool’s youngsters require if they are to go on and succeed at a higher level, according to Barry Lewtas.

Following a 1-0 loss to Genk in their last UEFA Youth League outing, the Reds' U19s host Napoli at the Academy on Wednesday afternoon (3pm GMT kick-off).

With Salzburg away to come in their final fixture, boss Lewtas knows that victories over the sides also on seven points in Group E would ensure automatic qualification for the knockout stages.

Read on for Lewtas’ pre-match thoughts...

On Wednesday’s game against Napoli...

It’s very much a home game for us, playing the game at the Academy. The boys are familiar with the routine of when they report, eat and our facilities. I think when we play at St Helens it gives us that special feel and it’s a really good place to go and offers us a different experience, but it’s not to be at the moment due to their pitch. We are happy to be back here. It didn’t quite work out for us in our last game against Genk but we are certainly looking to put that right on Wednesday.

On the defeat to Genk last time out…

It was the same last year. Against Paris Saint-Germain we had a really good result against them at home winning 5-2 and then we took part in a fantastic game over in France against them, one of the best games I’ve been involved in, and lost 3-2. In the away win in Genk I thought we were excellent and were worthy winners but we certainly didn’t come away from there thinking we were going to steamroller them at home. On the day there was probably a mixture of things that cost us. Credit to them as they played well and they are a good team but we know we were not at our best. It was a disappointed dressing room after the game and things just didn’t quite go our way. We will take full responsibility for that as a group - we will need to dust ourselves down and we know we need to be better against Napoli. Over the course of the time I’ve been working with the U19s group in this competition, there’s not been many days like that Genk one. That’s a credit to the players. It just didn’t go our way and things weren’t working on the day, but it wasn’t through a lack of effort. Sometimes we were trying too hard and the things we were trying just weren't going to work against their set-up. It wasn’t great but I didn’t come away thinking it was through a lack of effort or players not caring. We will be ready for Wednesday.

On the situation in the group with two matches remaining...

We’ve got two tough games left to play. I don’t think there’s been a game over the last 18 months when we have not gone out to win. It looks like we will need to win both games but we would want to win both games anyhow. It’s quite nice for the boys to have that little bit of pressure on them as well. That’s why we enter these competitions and we have got to try and prepare them for what’s ahead. To go into games when there is a little bit more on them is important for them and it’s good for the staff as well.

On last season’s home fixture with Napoli, which Liverpool won 5-0...

There was a little bit riding on that game as well to qualify. We got into our flow and scored some really good goals and it was a really good performance in the end. That’s not to say it is going to be like that on Wednesday, but I think it showed that when the pressure really was on we were able to deliver and that will clearly be our message this Wednesday. We know it’s not going to be easy to deliver. The boys want to qualify and we want to progress in this competition because we think it exposes the boys to a lot more challenges. What comes with pressure is a lot more responsibility to perform and I’m confident we will do that. It is important we start well and try to be the controlling force in the game.

On the U18s' dramatic 3-2 win at Southampton in the Premier League Cup on Saturday…

The boys did really well. We went into the game knowing we could still qualify although we knew it was going to be a tough ask in terms of the deficit of the goals. It was a first start for a number of our players, we had a young team out and we were really keen to go there and get something from the game. It was a feel-good factor for our players with the contribution they made and for their confidence going forward. So to get the performance we did, it wasn’t perfect, but there were so many positives to take from it. To get the winner in the 93rd minute was probably one of the latest last-minute winners we have got.

On the habit of scoring late winners and never giving up, a trait shared with the Reds' first team…

I think the boys really sensed the momentum of the game. They were a good team and it was a close game, although I thought we had good control of it with the chances that we created. For our left-back to tap in the winner from two yards out in stoppage time showed how well we pushed. We have got a real belief in the way that we want to play and I just thought at that time we were the team that were on top. The boys sensed that and went for the win. From a mentality point of view it was another late winner but what was really pleasing about this one was it was a late winner with a new team, a really young team, and it showed the work that is going on here with the squad.

On narrowly missing out on qualification for the knockout stages of the PL Cup…

We didn’t set it up with too much pressure on the boys. We wanted to go there and perform and it wasn’t that we didn’t want to qualify, I just didn’t want to put added pressure on them as we had a few debuts in the game. We were demanding a performance of them and what goes with that is the result. We thought to qualify was probably going to be a little bit out of our reach with the goal swing but then we missed out by just one goal. We were disappointed to concede a few goals in our home game against Manchester City. That was a fantastic game but it got a little bit out of control and in our opening game away at Swansea City we left it late to win it, but we missed a lot of chances in that game. In these cup competitions it’s a good learning curve for the boys to realise that sometimes not only the three points are important but the goal swing is also important. It’s a lesson learned but over the course of the three games in the group we had good results against Swansea and Southampton, and we certainly played our part in a really good game against City that didn’t go our way which we were really disappointed about. I think we can look back on it and say we performed well. There is still lots to do in terms of work and development but it wasn’t all negative.

Get the latest LFC news direct to your smart speaker
Never miss a beat Google Amazon
Owen Beck in action

Match report: Beck nets dramatic winner as U18s beat Southampton