U18sProgress, incredible moments and final game: Marc Bridge-Wilkinson's review of 2023-24

By Steve Hunter


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As Liverpool U18s prepare to bring the curtain down on 2023-24 away at Derby County on Saturday, manager Marc Bridge-Wilkinson believes there is plenty of moments for the group to be proud of.

From his first line-up of the season that saw Jayden Danns and Lewis Koumas both score in a 4-2 win over Nottingham Forest through to those players experiencing never-to-be-forgotten moments at Anfield, progress has certainly been made.

While results towards the back end of the campaign have been up and down due to regulars playing for the U21s and the senior team, this has also meant youngsters from the U16s have stepped up to experience football at a higher level.

Ahead of the U18 Premier League North finale away at Derby on Saturday – a game you can watch live on LFCTV and LFCTV GO at 12.30pm BST – read on as Bridge-Wilkinson reflects with Liverpoolfc.com on a very encouraging term for the Academy…

On Saturday’s season finale…

The season seems to have come around really quickly. We are really looking forward to the game and hopefully we can show some of the really good parts we’ve had in our game these last few weeks and put a real good performance together.

On last weekend’s friendly away at Southampton…

It was a good game and a tough game. Southampton were very strong on the day and we had a young side out but it was a great experience and exactly the sort of challenge we want. The lads performed really well in certain moments of the game as well as showing a bit of immaturity in other parts as well, so it’s all part of the learning process and hopefully we can use that to become better and stronger as we move forwards.

On his reflections on the 2023-24 campaign from an U18s point of view…

I think it has been a positive one. Obviously we’ve seen some of the experiences the boys have got in and around the first team, which is a real highlight – that amazing day at Wembley. Some of the boys have now become regulars with the U21s, which is fantastic and that’s our job. That has fast-forwarded their journey and allowed them to develop a little bit quicker than perhaps normal. But in saying that, that has given other youngsters an opportunity to come and play with us probably more so than they would have done previously, so it has been a positive season in that respect.

On Kieran Morrison netting 13 goals so far and also featuring for the U21s last weekend…

Kieran has done OK. He has definitely scored and created some wonderful goals across the course of the season but he still has an awful lot to do and he knows that. He has still got to learn to put in a performance over the course of the 90 minutes and I’m sure he will continue to do that and continue to improve. He has had a real positive performance this season and now we are just looking to try to help him improve further.

On the progress of 17-year-old Kareem Ahmed, who is ending the season strongly after an injury-affected campaign…

Kareem suffered a little bit at the start of the season with a couple of injuries which meant he missed quite a bit of time. It was then quite a period of time before he got back into the team and got up to speed with the rest of the group. Now he has done that and he is starting to look like the player we know he is.

On results being mixed and not having a settled side at U18 level due to various factors…

Development is what we look at and development comes in different formats. We want to win every single game we play – there’s no two ways about that and I’m the same as an ex-player myself. That’s in us and it’s something we are always desperate to achieve, but there’s also the development side of the game and that’s the one where we have to try to be more successful. We’ve got to work with these boys and help them improve so that they get an opportunity with the U21s and then the first team or on loan in the first teams of different clubs.

Regardless of win, lose or draw on a Saturday, we’ve got to give these boys the best opportunity of having a career in the game. Yes, we want to win and the players want to win, and we will always continue to try to make that happen because we want them to have that winning mentality. Ultimately, you’ve got to try to keep improving performances both individually and collectively.

On the challenge posed by his former side Derby…

We are looking forward to it and it will be a tough game. I think they have had what would be classed as a decent season this year. It’s the end of the season so I would imagine their first team and U21s would have finished. They may well be a really strong team and a difficult challenge we will face. It’s not going to be easy, it’s going to be tough but we will go there and give it our very best.



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This article has been automatically translated and, while all reasonable efforts have been made to ensure accuracy, some errors in translation are possible. Please refer to the original English-language version of the article for the official version.