England and Newcastle United legend Alan Shearer has backed Curtis Jones to kick on after the Liverpool youngster emerged as the hero to score the winning goal in the 235th Merseyside derby.
Jones, 18, scored his first senior goal for the club after curling a sumptuous strike into the top corner to ensure the young Reds progressed into the fourth round of the Emirates FA Cup.
Jurgen Klopp made nine changes from the side that increased their Premier League advantage to 13 points with victory over Sheffield United on Thursday – including three debutants in Takumi Minamino, Nathaniel Phillips and substitute Yasser Larouci.
The likes of Virgil van Dijk, Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson were all given the evening off entirely whilst Sadio Mane and Jordan Henderson were unused substitutes.
Despite Carlo Ancelotti naming a full-strength Everton side, Jones was able to inspire Liverpool to their 26th victory of the season. Only James Milner and Joe Gomez retained their places from the win against Sheffield United with the former being withdrawn due to injury inside the opening 10 minutes.
After the match, Jones talked about the ‘frustration’ towards lack of game-time due to the quality surrounding Klopp’s world-conquering squad.
Following only his fifth Reds appearance, the Liverpool youngster opened up on the difficulty into breaking into the Premier League leader’s senior XI: “It’s been frustrating to be on the bench then getting a bit of a taste for it, then on the bench again,” as quoted by The Mail Online.
Former England captain Alan Shearer commented on the difficulty surrounding young talent making the leap into the senior game and praised Jones’ hunger into forcing his way into Klopp’s plans as well as his bravery in being so honest regarding his frustration.
Speaking in his weekly column with The Sun, Shearer said: “Another great young talent announced himself in the shape of Curtis Jones.”Virgil
“His winner was an absolute cracker and I loved that he complained he hadn’t been getting enough chances at a club which is beating everyone in its path.
“He’s only 18 yet he knows what he wants and is determined to get it. Patience does not appear to be a virtue in football these days. Young players are hungry for the first-team action and want it now.”
What RTK has to say
Jones has undoubtedly been Liverpool’s brightest prospect from the academy this season. In the five appearances, the teenager has featured under Klopp he has been utterly dazzling.
Following a MOTM Liverpool debut against MK Dons, Jones followed that up by scoring the winning penalty during a thrilling 5-5 victory against Arsenal in the Carabao Cup.
Klopp has showcased his belief in Jones by handing the U23’s captain his first Premier League appearance against Bournemouth in December. He then made his European debut a few days later in a 2-0 victory against RB Salzburg.
Jones’ frustration epitomises the drive and determination needed to make it in a squad that his coveted in world-class talent. Having seen the gargantuan rise of fellow local lad Alexander-Arnold, the Liverpool youngster is showcasing he has the quality in abundance to make it at the highest level.