As Liverpool U21s prepare to start their new season on Sunday when they face Chelsea at Langtree Park, captain Cameron Brannagan is hoping to lead by example as he strives to try and make the big step-up to the first team.
The 19-year-old made the bench on five occasions last season as he impressed Brendan Rodgers during training sessions at Melwood and was on the verge of making a first-team breakthrough.
A minor illness prevented him from being a part of the first-team squad for the summer tour of Bangkok, Brisbane, Adelaide and Malaysia, but the midfield schemer is now fully fit and ready to prove his worth once again.
“I just want to play my game and do my best for the team,” Brannagan told Liverpoolfc.com.
“We just have to take every game as it goes, try our best and keep learning. Some of us may go out on loan and some may get a chance with the first-team, you never know what can happen.
“Last season didn’t start too well for me and I didn’t do as well as I could, but then as the season went on we got stronger as a group and produced some good performances.
“Maybe at some point I may go on loan and play some men’s football and then hopefully try and work my way into the first-team squad, but I know how important is to keep working hard and improve.”
Michael Beale’s side produced a superb display to beat Chelsea 2-0 at home last season, only to see their title dreams end after a 4-3 defeat to the Londoners in their penultimate game of last term.
Chelsea won the FA Youth Cup and UEFA Youth League last season, but Brannagan insists the young Reds are more than capable of starting the new campaign with a victory.
“Chelsea are a big club with great players and even though some of them have gone on loan they have got more great players coming through,” he added.
“We know it will be a tough test but we have got some good players as well and hopefully we can get the win.
“A lot of our lads know some of their players well playing for England so it will be really competitive and the only thing that matters to us is winning the game. We can’t wait for it.
“When we lost 4-3 at Chelsea it knocked us back and then we ended the season with a 4-4 draw against Norwich City, but this is a new season now and we want to try and win the league.”
Kick-off at Langtree Park, St Helens, is at 11.30am BST on Sunday and admission is just £5 for adults and £3 concessions.
Click here to read our new column with Academy director Alex Inglethorpe.