AcademyU18s preview: 'We have to be energetic and on the front foot from the first whistle'

By Steve Hunter


Facebook Twitter Email WhatsApp LinkedIn Telegram

Marc Bridge-Wilkinson is hoping his Liverpool U18s side can learn a valuable lesson from last week's FA Youth Cup exit at Ipswich Town by starting games faster.

During last Friday’s encounter at Portman Road, the young Reds almost conceded straight from the kick-off, before finding themselves 2-0 down at the half-time break.

Despite an improved second-half performance, which saw Bridge-Wilkinson’s charges have a penalty saved and a goal disallowed for offside, the start to the tie ultimately proved to be their downfall.

They will look to get back to winning ways this weekend when they welcome Derby County to the Kirkby Academy on Saturday in the U18 Premier League North.

Kick-off is at 12pm GMT and you can watch the game live on LFCTV and LFCTV GO.

Read on as Bridge-Wilkinson reflects on the FA Youth Cup defeat and previews Saturday’s test against Derby…

On the defeat at Portman Road…

It was a frustrating and disappointing night for us. We didn’t start well enough. We started on the back foot, which we didn’t intend to do but that’s the way it panned out. Conceding that second goal just before half-time made it really tough for us, so in the second half we knew we had to do more, be more energetic and more on the front foot and get into their penalty box more – which we did do. Obviously we didn’t manage to get the goal that we wanted and we lost the game, which was disappointing.

On whether it could have been a different story had the penalty gone in or had the close offside call gone their way…

It’s fine margins in football. Terence Miles is the captain, he scored a penalty the other week against Manchester United and, fair play to him, he stepped up, wanted to take the responsibility again when the team needed it – which you have to give him credit for. If you are going to take a penalty, there will probably be occasions when you miss one. Even the best players in the world have had penalties saved, so it was just one of those things. We could have scored a goal that was ruled offside, so that was unfortunate because if that had gone in then you never know. But we gave ourselves too much to do with the slow start we had.

Youth Cup highlights: Ipswich 2-0 Liverpool

On whether he felt his team could have done more with the chances they had in the first half…

We did some extra prep work and watched Ipswich Town. We thought we could get at their backline with the pace we had on the sides of the pitch. We managed to do that. Their ’keeper was coming out and it caused them a few problems. The idea was there but we didn’t manage to quite get it to work on the night.

On how much the players can learn from losing a game like that…

A lot. It’s what it’s all about and we always say to them every day is a learning day. Each day is about improving and hopefully winning games rather than losing them, of course. But there’s certainly a lot we can learn. When we went through the debrief with the players, there is certainly a lot for them to learn from it – as there is for us as staff as well. It was definitely a learning day.

On the recent return from injury of Trent Kone-Doherty…

Trent is still only 16 and he was unfortunate to pick up that injury because he started this season ever so well. He was in really good form and then picked up the injury, which has seen him miss quite a few games. It’s quite tough when you come back from injury and you are trying to get back to that same level again. But we know what he is capable of and we know the potential that he has. I’m sure he will continue to improve and get sharper as the weeks go by.

On Saturday’s meeting with Derby…

We are looking forward to it and it’s always brilliant for the boys to play on the main pitch at the Academy. Tough opposition, as always, but hopefully we can bounce back from what happened at Ipswich, give a good account of ourselves and hopefully get the win.

On how tough it has been for the group with the number of injuries so far this season and U16 players getting earlier-than-expected opportunities…

We don’t shy away from that but it’s not an excuse. How we always look at it is unfortunately when players get injuries or move up to the U21s, it gives opportunities to others, and that is my job. We have to give these young boys as many opportunities as we can. We have to keep helping them develop in the hope that at some point they will potentially get an opportunity with the first team. Yes, it’s disappointing some boys have missed out through injury and we have missed them, but it does give other boys the big opportunity to step up and develop their game.

On how close top scorer Lewis Koumas is to returning to action having been out injured since October…

Lewis is back in light training with the group. He still can’t join in fully yet but he’s doing some of the technical work. We are hoping if this continues the way it’s going then hopefully we will have him back in the coming weeks. Lewis was doing really well before his injury and it has been difficult for him, as it is for any young boy when they get an injury and are missing for any period of time. I’m sure that once he gets back up to speed and gets back into the games he can get back to the level he was at.



Facebook Twitter Email WhatsApp LinkedIn Telegram

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.