AcademyU21s preview: Kone-Doherty's development, Stephenson's leadership and Saints test

By Steve Hunter


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Barry Lewtas believes Trent Kone-Doherty will have learned a lot from his exciting Premier League 2 debut for Liverpool U21s at Derby County last Friday.

After netting a brilliant strike for the U18s against Nottingham Forest a week earlier, the 17-year-old Republic of Ireland youth international was handed his first start for the U21s and scored a superb goal during the 1-1 draw with the Rams.

It was a much-changed U21s line-up from the team that defeated Everton 4-0 in their opening game of the season, with U18 players Josh Davidson and Kieran Morrison coming off the bench to make their debuts at that level.

The U21s are back in action on Friday evening when they face Southampton at AFC Totton’s Snows Stadium, with kick-off set for 6pm BST.

  • You can watch the game live or on demand with us, with more details on how to do so available here.

Read U21s head coach Lewtas’ match preview below...

On a positive start to the season with the win over Everton and the draw with Derby…

Considering our programme in pre-season and a lot of players being away with the senior team, which was absolutely brilliant, I have to be pleased with our start. We knew playing Monday night and then on the Friday night wasn’t an ideal kind of start, but in the end we used the first two games as an extension of pre-season, if you like, and I think we will be stronger for that. Against Derby we had to dig in, certainly the last 20 minutes was very tough, and we started the season ever so well against Everton. So all in all, I’m really pleased with how the lads have dealt with these kind of moments.

On the fantastic display in the mini-derby…

Obviously how we controlled the game was very good. For any team, at the start of any season you want to get off to a positive start, whether that be with the performance or result. We are really pleased with the way we are heading.

On Kone-Doherty netting his first PL2 goal on his debut in the division…

It was a great finish from Trent and I was really pleased to see him make that movement in behind. I think he found it a tough night and it was certainly different, but he will be better for it and getting off the mark as well was fantastic for him. He is a player with potential and he is a smashing kid. He is unbelievably attentive and wants to do well and he really does give you attention because he wants to improve and get better.

On the versatility of Luca Stephenson, who played as a centre-back at Derby…

Fair play to him, and that’s why he is the leader he is. Luca leads by example. Playing Luca at centre-half was something we needed as a team and he is always willing to step in and, to be fair, he does a fantastic job wherever he plays. Luca is a midfielder, I see him as a midfielder and he knows that, but sometimes – and especially at this stage of the season when there’s a lot of swapping and loans etc – Luca is helping us out.

On handing Stephenson the captain’s armband in the opening two games…

Luca leads by example and at the moment he’s got the armband so we’ll see. He has been fantastic for us and whether he has got the armband or not, as he showed last year, he leads by example.

On players from the U18s squad getting their chance at U21 level…

As I always say, 100 per cent it’s an opportunity. We always take every game as it comes and I always knew the team I had out on the Monday night against Everton wouldn’t be the team that I would have at Derby. So, you have to be cautious about looking too far ahead and making any team predictions, but all you can do is kind of go from game to game.

The players have never let us down and I think at this particular moment there is real opportunity for some younger players and it’s up to them to grab it. That is what is really important. I also think it’s a really exciting time of the year because we’ve seen young players getting an opportunity training with the senior team and also young players getting a chance with the U21s, and even younger players having an opportunity with the U18s.

On Friday’s trip to Southampton…

They have a really good team. They have some bright players, they are well organised and have a nice balance. We know we are in for a real stern challenge on Friday night, but we will go there and try to win the game like we always do.

Liverpool U21s

AcademyLive U21s football: Watch Southampton v Liverpool nowWatch Liverpool U21s' match against Southampton live on LFCTV and the Anfield Tier of the club's official YouTube memberships subscription service now.



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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.