AcademyOwen Beck on loan spells, Barry Lewtas influence and his Liverpool dream
It's fair to say Owen Beck has learned a lot over the course of the 2022-23 campaign.
The attacking left-back, a product of Liverpool’s Academy, started the season with Portuguese outfit Famalicao, before later heading to League One with Bolton Wanderers.
After returning to Merseyside in January, the 20-year-old was one of the most consistent performers for the U21s as they sealed second spot in Premier League 2.
While he openly admits his time away from the Reds wasn’t as successful as he had hoped, he believes those experiences will stand him in good stead looking to the future.
“I knew going out on loan was going to be tough, but I wanted to go for that experience and [to] go into a senior environment,” Beck told Liverpoolfc.com.
“I obviously thought that I was going to get more game time than I did, but it was just one of those things that I just had to take as much as I could from it and learn as much as I could.
“I feel like I’ve come back a lot more experienced and I see them as both good experiences; Portugal and Bolton.
“There’s no point dwelling on it if it doesn’t go the way you want it to go and thinking negatively about it.
“I feel you need to just think positive and learn as much as you can from it, which I feel I did, and take the positives from it.”
Despite things not quite working out at Bolton, Beck is delighted to have seen how big an impact close friend Conor Bradley has had during a brilliant loan spell with Ian Evatt’s side.
The Northern Ireland international helped Wanderers to silverware when they won the Papa Johns Trophy final at Wembley and is now preparing for the end-of-season play-offs.
Bradley was recently voted Player of the Year by supporters and took the Players’ Player of the Year trophy too, as well as sharing the Young Player of the Year award with goalkeeper James Trafford.
“Conor is flying to be fair to him, I’m buzzing for him and he has been superb,” Beck said.
“I’ve been checking Bolton’s results. They are in the play-offs, so I’ll be keeping a look out and cheering them on and hopefully they can do well and get promotion.”
Returning to Kirkby, Beck went on to become an ever-present figure for the U21s and made the most of regular game time.
He added: “I’ve loved it, to be fair, just to play every week, get my fitness back and my momentum back. I’ve been trying to get more assists and just try to help the team as much as I can.
“The lads have had a great season and they should take a lot of pride in finishing in second place in Premier League 2.
“Obviously we are disappointed we couldn’t have won the league, but you’ve just got to look at the positives and we have done really well to finish second.
“We finished strongly and had some excellent wins against West Ham, Fulham and Crystal Palace.”
U21s highlights: Crystal Palace 0-1 Liverpool
Beck also spoke of his admiration for U21s head coach Barry Lewtas, who has been a big influence on his career to date.
“Baz has been amazing with me,” he said. “I spoke to him a lot during my loan spells and he was a big help for me.
“As soon as I came back to Liverpool, he told me to enjoy my football, that I am good enough, and he just gave me that confidence. I feel I have shown that in my performances for the U21s and that’s the key to consistently performing well and catching the eye.”
During Liverpool’s route to winning the Carabao Cup last season, Beck made two appearances in the competition when he stepped off the bench against both Preston North End and Leicester City.
He has also been on bench duty in the Premier League and the Emirates FA Cup, with the ultimate goal to play for the first team consistently.
“I want to play for this football club, and I know how hard that is, but I want to give it everything that I have got to try to make that dream a reality,” he said.
“I’ve just got to keep working as hard as I can and if the opportunity comes during pre-season then I’ve got to take that.
“It’s fantastic to see how Trent [Alexander-Arnold] has come through the Academy and gone on to win all of those medals – it really is a big influence for all of us young players.
“Curtis [Jones] as well, Harvey [Elliott], this is a club that gives young players an opportunity if you prove yourself, and I would love to be part of that one day.”
Beck is a huge admirer of Andy Robertson, who has been a big source of help for him during training sessions at the AXA Training Centre.
He added: “Even when you just train with Robbo, you realise just how good he is and I just try to pick as much as I can up from him.
“It’s the same with Kostas Tsimikas, to be fair. They speak to me and help me and they will tell me if I do something that they don’t think is right and that helps me massively, because you are only going to learn more from a senior player.”
Regular watchers of Liverpool’s U21s side will have been impressed by Beck, who has caught the eye of Reds legend Phil Thompson, among others, with some fantastic drives into the opposition half to set up attacks.
“I love to get forward, take people on, attack and getting assists is a big part of my game,” Beck said.
“It’s just as important that I need to defend well, so it’s just about finding that right balance.”
While the season may be coming to an end, Beck is eyeing international duty with Wales U21s ahead of a big game next month.
He said: “We have got a few friendlies lined up and then we play the first game of the European U21 qualifiers in June when we play away to Denmark, so hopefully I can be involved in that.
“It’s always an honour to play for Wales, I love it. It feels special every time I put that shirt on, like it does when I put on the Liverpool shirt.
“Hopefully I can impress the senior coaches – that’s my big aim and I will do whatever it takes to try to achieve that.”