The current UK lockdown has allowed some of Liverpool FC's Academy players to start learning a new skill – sign language.

A number of the Reds' U18 squad have been teaching themselves a few of the basics of sign language so they could send a message of support to the children at Knotty Ash Primary School in the city.

Their efforts have now been collated into a video, which you can watch below, that is being shared with the pupils today to celebrate Deaf Awareness Week.

Among those taking part from Barry Lewtas' squad are Matteo Ritaccio, Billy Koumetio, Conor Bradley, Tom Hill and captain Fidel O'Rourke.

The players were able to follow special instructional videos sent across from the school via deputy head Chris England, signed by a pupil and a teacher.

Knotty Ash has a deaf resource base and welcomes pupils with both profound deafness or full hearing as well as different levels in between.

Head teacher Roanne Clements-Bedson said: "We're a relatively small school with 17 pupils with a profound level of deafness, others with different levels of hearing who use speech, and 230 hearing pupils.

"All of our pupils use British Sign Language so they can communicate with each other. It has a massive positive impact on inclusion and the acceptance that our children learn here.

"It really elevates the school and signing has equal standing in everything we do here."

Knotty Ash has been closed during the coronavirus outbreak with many of the teachers working at the special teaching hubs that Liverpool has set up to continue schooling the children of key workers.

Ms Clements-Bedson is recovering from the virus herself after briefly being in hospital and feels the LFC players' video will be a big hit with her pupils.

She added: "Our children will be so chuffed, they will all love it! For our deaf children in particular, people who value signing are heroes to them.

"Making the effort to communicate will go down brilliantly. We've got lots of football fans and lots of Liverpool fans at the school."

Phil Roscoe, the Academy's head of player care, said the club was delighted to send its support to all the pupils.

He said: "We’re really pleased to support Deaf Awareness week.

"Obviously the squad is apart at the moment but it's brilliant that we've had videos coming in from players around the world, from the USA to France to Northern Ireland and of course here in Liverpool.

"We hope the pupils really enjoy it."

LUIS LONGSTAFF

Meet the Academy: Luis Longstaff