Ben Doak on Europa League chances, development, Mo Salah guidance and more

InterviewBen Doak on Europa League chances, development, Mo Salah guidance and more

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By Glenn Price

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'Night and day' is Ben Doak's assessment of his own development in the 12 months since his senior Liverpool debut.

The 18-year-old has now clocked up nine appearances for Jürgen Klopp's side, the last of which came earlier this month in the Europa League clash at Toulouse.

Doak is hoping for another chance to display his exciting talents in the competition when Austrian side LASK visit Anfield on Thursday for matchday five.

When asked to analyse the player he is now, compared to the one that debuted against Derby County in November 2022, the Scot told Liverpoolfc.com: "Night and day.

"When you're around it and then when you start doing well, your confidence goes up as a player and as a person. As a player, I said it in an interview in pre-season, it feels night and day.

"The player I was this time last year is nowhere near what I am now. But that doesn't mean I stop now. I need to just keep going and hopefully I can say the same next year.

"I'm enjoying just being around it, to be honest. I think anyone of my age is lucky to be in and around it. I'm just trying to look for minutes when I can get them.

"Three, four years ago, I couldn't have imagined being here and being in and around it as much as I have been. When you're in the moment, it's fine and you're just playing football, enjoying yourself.

"After it when you take a step back, you realise, 'I'm playing at one of the highest levels you can get.' It's a dream come true for a young lad."

Doak was handed his first start for the Reds in September's reverse fixture with LASK that ended in a 3-1 away win.

Having now shaken off any pre-match nerves, the attacker is looking to use his opportunities to deliver decisive contributions.

"My first start was probably the worst [for nerves]," he recalls. "I was really nervous for that. But any other game I've played, I've been OK. But the two starts after that, I was more excited than anything.

"But coming off the bench, the last thing on your mind is nerves. You're desperate to go out and show what you can do.

"I think I've done fairly well. I could have been better in moments in terms of output, getting a goal or an assist. Obviously [I] missed one or two opportunities, maybe could've put a better ball in at some point.

"But it's all part of getting better, it's all part of my development. I'm just trying to start getting my output in, because I can get in the areas, so I just need to start putting the final pieces together."

Doak's development has been massively aided by constant exposure to the array of world-class players in Liverpool's attacking department.

Mohamed Salah is one of many examples Doak is out to follow, with the Egyptian regularly offering his invaluable advice.

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"Mo's really helped me out a lot especially," Doak said. "But they're all good, they all give their input, they all give what they think and I take it all in.

"Again [with] Mo, he's really good at this – no matter how the game is going, he always ends up being in the right place, he always ends up nicking a goal.

"Whether he's not playing his best or whether he's the best player on the pitch, he always ends up scoring. That's what I'm striving to be like."

The Reds can clinch qualification to the knockout phases of the Europa League with a game to spare on Thursday, and even be confirmed as Group E winners if they win and other results fall in their favour.

That said, Doak needs no further motivation heading into the tie.

He explained: "You don't need any more incentive. When you're a player and going into these games, for me personally I'm not thinking, 'If we win, we qualify.'

"You want to win every game and want to do your best every game. Hopefully as a by-product of that we do qualify."

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