Neil Critchley previewed Liverpool's Carabao Cup quarter-final against Aston Villa at a press conference on Monday morning.

The U23s boss will take charge of a youthful Reds team at Villa Park tomorrow night, with Jürgen Klopp and the first-team squad in Qatar to participate in the FIFA Club World Cup this week.

Read a summary of Critchley’s press conference, which also included an injury update on Rhian Brewster, below…

On the opportunity and responsibility against Villa…

It’s a great opportunity for all of us, myself included. I’ll be very proud to lead the team out tomorrow night but the pride I will have will come from the players playing to what they’re capable of. When you work with the players every day and you work with them for a number of years, when I stand on the touchline tomorrow night I’ll be immensely proud of the players who are taking to that pitch and I hope they go and play how I know they are capable of playing. There’s no better feeling for a coach when the players who are representing you, and you’ve got a relationship with, go and play to their capabilities, and if they do that, that’s where my pride will come from.

On the process that led to him taking charge of this game…

The decision was obviously taken above me. That was for the club to decide and this is what they’ve come up with. It’s a unique set of circumstances, I don’t think it’s ever happened maybe before. We tried to find what we think is the best solution, and myself and the players who are going to be there tomorrow night are the beneficiaries of that decision. We are looking forward to it, we can’t wait and we will go and try to give everything we’ve got tomorrow night on the pitch from the first whistle.

On what the opportunity means to him…

I suppose a range of emotions: excitement, really looking forward to it. I don’t think we can lose really, we’ve just got to go and give everything that we have got, be there for each other from the first whistle. We always try to dominate the game but we understand that will be extremely difficult tomorrow night, but these players, they want a tough challenge and they need tough challenges and the next step they are trying to make in their career is the toughest, the stats will show you that. I hope they go and prove to everyone watching tomorrow night what they’re capable of.

On how beneficial the previous tie with Arsenal will be for the players…

I think any experiences of playing in these types of games – obviously the last game at Anfield was an unbelievable night, 3-1 down, 4-2 down, 5-4 down and we still kept coming back. It was an unbelievable evening. Part of my job, a youth coach, is to try to put the players in situations where they learn from it and outside their comfort zone; tomorrow night we’ll be outside our comfort zone but they need tough challenges. I think the team that takes to the pitch tomorrow night, whether it’s good, bad or indifferent, will take so much from the experience. Personally, I’ll be looking forward to seeing how our players do.

On what has pleased him most about the progress of his players…

Well, you never quite know until they are put in that situation. We’re very fortunate here that our manager believes in young players and gives them an opportunity. Look at the last game against Arsenal – [he was] very brave in selecting those players. You’re never quite sure until they’re given that opportunity but the mentality that the manager breeds in the first-team players here seeps into the Academy as well. You can’t help but be influenced by what goes on above you. I like to think our young players, as they showed against Arsenal in the last round, have a similar mentality or are developing that mentality that our first-team players produce on a weekly basis.

On where that mentality comes from…

It comes from the standards you set for the players on a daily basis and how you drive that. The players know what’s acceptable, what’s not acceptable. We’re here to engage with them, challenge them and support them. You never stop pushing them and pushing them and pushing them. We never settle for mediocrity, that that’s OK – you’ve got to be better than OK. It comes from a group of staff and players who are prepared every day with the players to give their all. The preparation comes pretty much on a daily basis on the training ground. You guys get to see the product on the pitch.

On the time he has had with the team for preparation…

We’ve been together. The group of players that will take to the pitch is one I work with constantly, so it’s not like we’re throwing a team together. We’ll be well prepared, we’ve got enough time, we’ll know how we’re going to approach the game. It’s important we go and play like a Liverpool team. We can only control what we can control – what can we guarantee on the pitch tomorrow night? The pressure from us as staff to the players is that we go and play like a Liverpool team – that will be important to us.

On the excitement the players feel ahead of the game…

It is [good to see], to be around young players and you see the excitement in their eyes, it’s so uplifting for me and the staff around us. You feel their sense of excitement and it can’t help but make you feel you’re part of that with them. It’s exciting for me to share that with them, to share that experience with the players we work with will give me a lot of pride and satisfaction tomorrow night.

On whether the players are ready to handle the challenge…

We’ll find out – maybe they will, maybe they won’t. It comes back to what we can guarantee. In the long-term, as long as we learn from it, as long as we reflect on the experience, then it can only benefit these young players. Hopefully by the end of the evening, the supporters who travel and the people [watching] on television will look at the young players of Liverpool and think, ‘OK, two or three of them, or maybe more, can be players of the future.’ That’s what we’re going to be aiming to do tomorrow night. We understand it’s going to be a difficult test. Aston Villa, quarter-final of the League Cup, playing at Villa Park, you expect a full house, live on the television – what a great occasion for our young players to go and thrive in that type of environment. I come back to it, as long as we’re there for each other and support each other, and we go and play like a Liverpool team can do, then we can’t control everything but we can guarantee certain things and that’s what we’ll be aiming to do.

On whether Klopp will be watching the game and in touch…

I’m sure they’ll be able to [watch] with technology nowadays. I’m sure the manager, staff and players will be watching. I’m sure he’ll be in touch. He takes great interest in our young players. I’m very fortunate that I can come down to Melwood whenever I can, I have access to come and speak to him and watch training. He’s fully aware of all our young players and who they are, he asks me questions constantly. So I’m sure he’ll be watching the game with great interest tomorrow night.

On who will join him in the dugout…

Because some of the younger players will be here, Barry [Lewtas] will be helping me; Alex [Inglethorpe], the Academy manager, rightly so will be there to support us; my normal staff; Vitor [Matos] will be here as well. So we’ll be well supported and we’ll be well prepared.

On Curtis Jones and Neco Williams being part of the Club World Cup squad…

For two 18-year-olds to go to the Club World Cup – it doesn’t happen every day of your life. For them to be part of that squad, you’ve only got to see the squad that has travelled, you’ve only got to count names and see they’ve got a chance of being in and around the squad and possibly being on the bench. If they are, as the manager proved with bringing Curtis on last week against Bournemouth, they’ve got a chance of getting on the pitch. Fingers crossed they do, because what an occasion that would be for them.

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