U18s preview: Season finale, Jayden Danns impact and 2022-23 improvements

AcademyU18s preview: Season finale, Jayden Danns impact and 2022-23 improvements

By Steve Hunter


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Marc Bridge-Wilkinson has offered his assessment of Liverpool U18s' season ahead of the young Reds' final league match of the campaign.

Bridge-Wilkinson’s side host Newcastle United at the Academy on Saturday (1pm BST kick-off) in a game you can watch live on LFCTV and LFCTV GO, with our coverage starting at 12.30pm.

Ben Doak started the campaign in the U18s and his partnerships with Lewis Koumas and Trent Kone-Doherty were a big component in their excellent early-season form.

With Doak progressing to the U21s and senior level, the squad were then hit hard by injuries at both ends of the field and while results have been up and down, numerous young players from the U16s squad have gained invaluable experience at U18 level.

Read on as Bridge-Wilkinson reflects on 2022-23 and the positives he takes from it going forward…

On last weekend’s 2-2 draw with Stoke City…

We had a lot of chances and probably should have won the game. On reflection, if you look at the chances we had and the way we played in the second half we were disappointed not to win, but obviously scoring goals and not conceding goals is where the magic is - and unfortunately we didn’t score any more than they did. We were disappointed in that respect but there were lots of positives to take.

U18s highlights: Stoke 2-2 Liverpool

On Saturday’s final league fixture of the season against Newcastle...

It will be a nice game and we are looking forward to it. We are on the main front pitch, it looks fantastic as always and I’m sure on the day the lads will turn up and perform well. We played really well recently away at Newcastle United, that was a really positive performance. I thought we were commanding with the ball, we dealt with the game really positively and really maturely and we came away with a nice positive performance. Fingers crossed we can replicate that in some fashion on Saturday.

On ending the season in encouraging form…

We started the season quite strongly then we had a bit of a blip in the middle. We’ve managed to get a little bit of form in at the end of the season with a good run of games together and some really good performances to go with it. Fingers crossed we can perform really well on Saturday to finish the league programme on a high.

On Jayden Danns netting 10 goals so far this term…

Dannsy is a really good finisher. He has managed to get into double figures, which is really good for him because he has missed a few games through injury this season, and hopefully he can add to that on Saturday. We just need to get him into the right areas and when we do that we know he can score goals.

On the U18s football programme still continuing throughout May…

We have arranged a couple of friendlies here against Leicester City and then Tottenham Hotspur before we take the group to Zurich to play in a tournament over there. That will be really good for the boys to go over there and get that international experience because some of them haven’t had that during the last two years because of COVID-19. It will be a nice way to finish the season.

On his assessment of 2022-23…

I think if we go from the start of it to where we are now, obviously there have been changes. Some due to boys being really successful and moving up through the age groups, but unfortunately quite a few of the boys have also missed a lot of football this season due to injury, which has been a shame, but it has also provided opportunity for other players. That is always something you look back on and think is there anything we could have done differently or not? We always look at ourselves as staff first.

But, overall I think improvement has been made throughout the group. Individually the boys are improving all the time and hopefully we can continue to do that. Fingers crossed it will stand us in good stead next season, and the boys that have come in to make their U18s debuts perhaps a bit earlier than they expected, they will be stronger for that experience as well next year.



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