Neil Critchley lauded the talents of Curtis Jones after the 19-year-old netted a sensational eight-minute hat-trick for Liverpool U23s during their 6-0 win over Sunderland on Monday.

The victory ensured the young Reds qualified for the last 16 of the Premier League Cup.

Joe Hardy also netted twice to take his tally to seven goals since his January arrival, and Liam Millar was also on the mark at the Academy.

Jones, who was given the U23s captain’s armband by Critchley this term, has struck 19 times this campaign, including his two for the first team.

Post-match, Critchley gave us his assessment of Jones’ form and hunger, the 6-0 win and more...

On the overall performance of the team…

When you have all of the play and you are in the final third that often, you want to turn that superiority into goals. We have probably been guilty in some games this season of having a lot of the ball but not finishing off our chances. That was the message to the boys at half-time: that we’ve got to turn this dominance into winning this game by three or four goals and keeping a clean sheet. We did that in the second half so I was really, really pleased with the boys.

LFCTV GO: Watch the Sunderland highlights

On the quick-fire hat-trick from Jones…

The longer the game goes on I would have been surprised if Curtis hadn’t have scored. They were top goals as well, the left foot one, he can really hit it and connect off his left foot – it was a great strike. Then we had the right foot one when he cut inside and found the corner of the net. Right from the kick-off it was a fantastic bit of play from Liam, and Curtis has got the energy to keep running into the box and score. Three really top goals.

On the big steps Jones is making this season…

He is [making big strides]. Curtis has been a consistent top performer for us this season and I suppose the test for him now and the test for us is to keep driving the standard for him and not to settle for what he’s got. I know he won’t be and he will be looking for more. He has had a taste of it and he wants more of that. Curtis knows he has to keep performing if he wants more chances at senior level but I’m sure that will come at some point.

On managing a constantly changing U23s team…

We changed a lot of the players who played on Friday against Huddersfield Town. If you look at our bench it’s a really strong squad of players and we’ve also got some unfortunate injuries as well and there’s some people that we shouldn’t forget. We have got a really good group of players from U18s to U23s to work with, I am very fortunate. Not only are they good players but they are good people. They are very grounded, they listen and they want to get better. That’s a real privilege for a coach in my position to work with people like that

On Neco Williams picking up a slight knock…

Neco took a knock and with the scoreline the way it was I didn’t think there was any point in him carrying on and making it worse, so we decided to take him off as a precaution. It was just a knock on the top of his foot and I’m sure he will be fine.

On Friday night’s trip to face Blackburn Rovers in Premier League 2…

The games are coming thick and fast now. Another reason for playing in these cup competitions is the boys have to get used to playing and recovering quickly. That’s the business they are going into, so recovery between now and Friday is really important. We don’t have a great record at Leyland when we’ve played there but we are looking forward to it, and it’s a game when we are going to need to do better than when we’ve been there previously.

You can watch the meeting with Blackburn live on LFCTV and LFCTV GO. Kick-off is at 7pm GMT at the Lancashire FA County Ground.

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Match report: Curtis Jones nets hat-trick as U23s put six past Sunderland