Jürgen Klopp’s faith in giving young players an opportunity at first-team level is the perfect incentive for any aspiring footballer coming through Liverpool's Academy, believes U23s boss Neil Critchley.

Sunday’s line-up against Carlo Ancelotti’s side saw the likes of Curtis Jones, Neco Williams, Harvey Elliott, Nat Phillips and Pedro Chirivella all handed starting berths, while 19-year-old Yasser Larouci was an impressive early debutant as he replaced the injured James Milner.

The afternoon was topped off by U23s captain Jones netting a stunning winning goal to earn Klopp’s charges a place in the fourth round of the FA Cup.

Academy hopefuls get another opportunity to showcase their talents when they face Spanish side Athletic Club in the Premier League International Cup at the Kirkby Academy on Wednesday night.

Kick-off is at 7pm GMT and after the dramatic 3-2 win over Paris Saint-Germain last month, the U23s have given themselves a great chance of qualification with two games left to play.

Ahead of Wednesday night’s game, which you can watch live on LFCTV and LFCTV GO, read on for Critchley’s thoughts on the Athletic Club tie and young players getting opportunities…

On the feel-good factor at the Academy with young players believing they will get an opportunity under Klopp...

It’s a sort of inspiration when you see the connection between Melwood and the Academy. For a lot of those young players to get their opportunity to play in a derby against Everton and then win the game was magnificent for them. I’m sure all of our players at the Academy were delighted for them as well, as were all of the staff. Hopefully it also gives them the motivation to think, ‘I was playing alongside him the other week, so it might be me if I keep working hard and listening to the coaches to improve my game. Then one day that could be me’. There’s no better manager right across Europe that gives young players a chance like our manager. We are very fortunate at the Academy to have a manager who believes in young players and gives them a chance.

On Sunday’s narrow 1-0 defeat away at Manchester City in Premier League 2 despite hitting the woodwork twice with a young line-up…

It was a very evenly-matched game between two good teams. It’s what I would call a proper game of football with two teams trying to play from the back and keeping good possession of the ball. It was a really good game and unfortunately they got the goal that decided the game and there was very little between the two teams. You could argue we might have got something from the game but I was pleased with the boys, who gave it everything.

LFCTV GO: Watch the PSG highlights

On Wednesday night’s meeting with Athletic Club…

It’s a competition where we get to play against teams from different parts of Europe. We had a really good first game against Paris Saint-Germain where we managed to get the three points and we are looking forward to this game against a good Spanish side. Maybe it will be a different type of test than what we faced against PSG, but this is what we want for our young players.

On the high level of the performance from such a young side against PSG…

It was and it came on the back of the Aston Villa game, so I had to make a lot of changes to the team. We went 2-1 down and showed great character to come back and win the game late on. It was a great way for us to finish our last game before Christmas and pick up the three points to put us in a decent position with two games to go.

On how he sees his side's qualification hopes with Wolverhampton Wanderers away to follow Athletic Club…

We’ve put ourselves in a really good position by winning the first game. It’s quite a close group as a lot of the other games have ended up in draws. That has gone in our favour but we know we face two very difficult games and I’m sure they will both be close games. Our aim is to at least win one of them and if we do then I think that would be enough to qualify for the knockout stages.

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