Matthew Sinton has a look at what we can expect from the U23s next season after a promising win over Everton.

On Monday evening, Liverpool’s U23s played their last game of the season at Goodison Park. Everton had already won the Premier League 2 so tickets were free, meaning there was quite a crowd to go along with some impressive football from our young players.

Let’s take a look at some of the standout performers and what the future could hold for them.

Trent Alexander-Arnold

Seriously, if anyone from our academy is going to make it, it’ll be this kid. On Tuesday evening the young fullback was awarded Liverpool’s Young Player of the Season award.

I could see him playing somewhere other than right back in the long term as he seems to offer so much going forward.

He made it 2-0 in the second half with a brilliant finish that looked almost identical to that famous Carlos Alberto goal in 1970. It was in a slightly less important game, but still.

I don’t think Trent’s going away to an international tournament this summer, so he should have plenty of time to prepare for what I expect will be a big role in our pre-season games.

Remember Steven Gerrard mentioned in his autobiography how talented Trent was? Believe the hype. He’s got it.

Sheyi Ojo

Sheyi is one of my favourite young players and I’ve felt really frustrated for him this season.

He was recalled from a loan spell at Wolves for the second half of last season and certainly impressed, ending the campaign with a goal contribution every 90 minutes on average.

He continued to impress in pre-season last summer with an assist against AC Milan and a goal against Roma, but a back injury just before the Barcelona game at Wembley – and another setback just before his recovery – kept him out until December which severely damaged his first team chances for the season.

 

He has continued to regain match fitness with the U23s in recent months and started down the middle on Monday night – different to his usual left wing position – and opened the scoring after just six minutes following some good pressing by Harry Wilson.

He and Ovie Ejaria will head off to the U20 World Cup in Korea in around two weeks’ time but will return for our pre-season games and I expect both, especially Ojo, to have significant amounts of game time to make up for a lack of chances this season.

He’s one of the best young talents we have and I know he’s got what it takes to make it for us – I hope we can see it happen.

Marko Grujic

Grujic is another one who’s had a frustrating year. Almost none of us had heard of him when he agreed to join in January last year but he showed some very promising signs in a pre-season in which he scored three goals, including that looping header at Wembley to make it 4-0 against Barcelona.

He had a couple of opportunities in the League Cup in the early months of the season but injuries have kept sidelined for much of the season.

He’s now showing his quality in the U23s, though, with an assist for Arnold’s goal against Everton. He was also very unlucky not to score the winner against Southampton on Sunday when Fraser Forster saved a great header from the young Serbian in the dying minutes.

I don’t think we’ll see very much of Marko in the remaining first team games, but that certainly won’t be the case in pre-season.

Harry Wilson

It seems like Harry Wilson’s been around for ages but he’s still only 20 and what a season he’s had for the U23s.

He was made captain of the young Reds and has ended the season with 28 goals. It was good pressing from him that led to Sheyi Ojo’s opener in the mini derby, however, I do have some concern over his first-team future.

He made his debut for the Wales international team back in 2013 and four years later, he has only played 25 minutes of first team football, in an FA Cup game against League Two Plymouth.

While I think the focus this season had been for him to develop as captain of the U23s, surely he can’t be waiting too much longer for first team chances? I hope we see some of him in pre-season as he definitely deserves it.

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