Barry Lewtas on Porto challenge, Doak progress and more

U19s previewBarry Lewtas on Porto challenge, Doak progress and more

By Steve Hunter


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Barry Lewtas is hoping his Liverpool U19 team can showcase their quality when FC Porto visit the Academy in a UEFA Youth League last-16 tie on Wednesday.

During the group stage, the young Reds were in terrific form, winning five out of their six games in Group A and scoring 20 goals in the process.

Last season the U19s defeated Porto 4-0 in the group stage of the competition in Kirkby, and will be aiming for another victory in the knockout round this time.

The tie, which has to be decided on the day, is set for a 5.30pm GMT kick-off and is being shown live on BT Sport in the UK.

Read on as Lewtas looks ahead to an exciting challenge for his young players...

On Wednesday’s tie with Porto…

We are really excited. It’s probably the premier competition, so the boys who are eligible to play it’s something they look forward to. We’ve had to wait a while for this game because of the World Cup and we are excited.

On what he is expecting from the visitors…

I think whoever you draw it’s going to be a tough game. FC Porto is a standout youth set-up. We played them a couple of years ago in the group stage and we played against their B team in pre-season. We know a lot about them and obviously Vitor [Matos] and Pep [Lijnders] worked there, so we know what a challenge it will be, and it is going to be a tough game.

But I think that’s the idea of the competition and we want to test ourselves against the best teams and I certainly think FC Porto is going to be one of them. It is a real opportunity for the boys to showcase what they are about.

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On the impressive group campaign…

The aim always at the beginning of the season is to be competitive in the group and try to finish in top spot. That is a real aim for us. Obviously then the January transfer window comes and we make decisions on who goes out on loan and who comes back. So, the season is very much kind of split in two so some players who have done well for us in the first part of the season maybe won’t be with us in the second part. That gives an opportunity for others. But in the first half of this season the amount of goals we scored, the manner in which we played, I thought it was really exciting, so hopefully we can kind of reproduce that.

On the performances of Ben Doak during the group stage…

Ben was a really important player for us in the group stage, away at Napoli to get it going and then when we went down to 10 men against Rangers, and I think there was a bit of extra motivation there for him as well! He was a real threat for us. Obviously he has been out for a couple of weeks with a little knock then he returned last weekend for us against Chelsea and I thought he was excellent.

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On the development of Doak since moving up to the U21s squad…

We work closely with the first team and our job is to develop the players, put them in an environment where they can flourish and hopefully then, with the support we have from Pep and Vitor in particular, we are able to move boys across. Ben has done ever so well. It’s OK getting an opportunity and earning it but I think Ben has grabbed it and done ever so well, so it’s up to him to maintain that but he’s a real focused boy and I’m sure that he will do.

On seeing how well Stefan Bajcetic is doing with the first-team squad…

It’s fantastic. It’s really good for us as an Academy, especially our group just in terms of added motivation for the others. I think when they see their friends, people they train with and people they know get an opportunity and take it, it does motivate. It allows us to push a bit more as well so Stefan has done ever so well.



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