The Academy youngsters who have stepped up to train with the first team at Melwood on occasion so far this season have made a lasting impression on the senior players, reveals Jordan Henderson.
The captain has used his column in today’s official matchday programme to explain why the manner in which the likes of Trent Alexander-Arnold, Ovie Ejaria, Caiomhin Kelleher and Ben Woodburn have acquitted themselves alongside their more experienced counterparts has left him full of confidence that the club has a bright future ahead of it thanks to the work being done in Kirkby.
Henderson wrote in ‘This is Anfield’: “Recently I’ve been thinking back to my time as an academy player at Sunderland and making those first difficult, uncomfortable steps into a first-team environment and everything that came with that. The reason for this has been the emergence of some top young players here at Liverpool who have stepped up, been more involved with us and made a big impression.
“I know this is pretty common knowledge, but the situation at Liverpool is quite different to most other clubs. The first team and the Academy are based on two completely different sites: we’re at Melwood and the young lads are at Kirkby.
“This probably makes it more noticeable when a new face emerges, because often the first time you meet this person is when they’re running alongside you on the training pitch for their first session.
“Since the summer the lads who have really stood out, having been new to the first-team environment, are Trent Alexander-Arnold, Ovie Ejaria, Caiomhin Kelleher and Ben Woodburn. Trent, Ovie and Caiomhin have spent the most time with us, with Ben coming in as and when the opportunity arises.
“I know I can speak for a lot of the lads in our squad when I say we have been knocked out by how well these boys have done. It’s no surprise they have ability; they wouldn’t be at Liverpool in the first place if they weren’t good players. Ability is only part of it, though – the game is full of young lads with great ability. It’s the attitude and commitment they’ve shown in the first-team environment that bodes really well for them and us in the future.
“That’s what we’ve noticed. The way they’ve come in, performed and integrated is a credit to our Academy set-up at Liverpool and it shows the environment and leadership at Kirkby is in place to allow these lads to have a fantastic chance when they reach the first team.
“I know this is something the club is very keen on, and clearly Alex Inglethorpe and his staff are creating something special. Culture and environment is critical for me, and judging from the lads I’ve mentioned above and many others, they’re getting it spot-on in Kirkby.”
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