Jake Cain's senior debut for Liverpool was an experience that will live with him for a very long time.

The midfielder, who first joined the Academy at the age of five, was a key performer in the centre of the park during the FA Cup fourth-round replay victory over Shrewsbury Town at Anfield earlier this month.

Wigan-born Cain started the season in the U18s team and moved up to the U23s around Christmas, making for another memorable campaign for the 2018-19 FA Youth Cup winner.

We recently caught up with the 18-year-old to discuss his Liverpool debut and why this is only the start of a long journey ahead…

On the beginning of the season, lining up for the U18s, and his hopes and aspirations…

I was just hoping to maintain my place in the team and carry on from last year because I had a good season, and hopefully in the coming months get a few chances with the U23s and get challenged a bit more. Luckily, after Christmas I got moved up to the U23s, which was a good moment for me because it gives me more challenges. Although I’m disappointed to leave my friends with the U18s it’s still a good step in the right direction for me.

On a memorable 2018-19 campaign culminating in the FA Youth Cup success…

It was a good season. We had a great group of lads who all worked hard every day and it showed. We beat Manchester City on penalties in the FA Youth Cup final, who were a very good side, but it was all about training every day and working hard and then at the weekend it showed. It gives us great confidence because the first-team staff always watch all of our games so they know what’s going on. It’s just another chance to impress everyone. Scoring a few goals gave me massive confidence and makes you eager to keep scoring and keep getting that feeling of scoring as well.

On playing alongside Leighton Clarkson in midfield for a long while…

We’ve been playing together since U7 level so we’ve had a great connection all the way through the Academy. We’ve always played in the same team together so it’s good to get that partnership and the bond we have is good.

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On realising he had a good chance of making his first-team debut against Shrewsbury at Anfield…

We had a few sessions at Melwood and I was in the starting XI team and was thinking, ‘Hopefully I’ll get a shot here.’ Luckily, I did get a chance and it was unbelievable.

On the build-up to arriving at Anfield, including leaving the team hotel and the coach journey to the stadium…

It was mad. All of the fans were waiting for us at the team hotel and it was just surreal really. It was a taste of what the first team do and it gives you more determination to want to keep doing that every week. Going on the bus and seeing all the fans as we came into Anfield was just unbelievable. To see the amount of fans that came out to see us play, we can’t thank them enough.

On coping with the demand for tickets for the family…

There was a lot of my family there, half of Wigan was there! It was good to see them out there supporting me and they have all been building up to that moment.

On playing in front of 52,000 supporters at Anfield…

It was mesmerising. My body just froze and I was looking around seeing all of our fans singing You’ll Never Walk Alone, which was just an unbelievable feeling. Then after the game I didn’t want to come off the pitch. It was amazing, I couldn’t believe it. Seeing everybody smiling and applauding us off was unbelievable and hopefully the first team can keep going in the FA Cup.

On the belief inside the dressing room that the team could win the game…

We were confident before the game and we believed that we had the ability to beat Shrewsbury Town. On the night I thought we were the better team and deserved to win but there was never any doubt in our minds that we would lose.

On there being a long way to go for him and keeping a level head…

This is just a start for me. You’ve got to keep on working hard and wait for the next opportunity that you get. It’s important to keep working hard every day in training and keep pushing. I’ve not cracked it, none of us have and we know that. I just want to keep on playing more games with the U23s and keep improving. I want to get more goals and assists but personally I just want to see the team playing well and winning, and be a part of that.

On the difference between playing for the U23s compared with the U18s…

It’s a bit more challenging and a lot more physical. There is more demand on me but it’s a good challenge and it’s making me improve as a player. We’ve got a lot to play for this season and still in the cup competitions. We’ve got Wolfsburg in the Premier League International Cup and now Benfica in the UEFA Youth League, so it’s good for us to be in them and challenge ourselves against some of the best young players in Europe.

On looking back at the start of his journey with Liverpool…

I first came to the Academy when I was five! I was scouted in Wigan and came to the Academy on trial. I then signed my first contract when I was nine so I’ve been here ever since then and it has just been unbelievable. I’ve seen this place develop and change over the years and it’s exciting to see the first team moving here next season.

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