Liverpool’s U23s may have suffered a gruelling setback following their 3-0 defeat to Wigan on Friday evening, but there were still positives to take for Neil Critchley’s young Reds.

KIRKBY, ENGLAND – JANUARY 13: (THE SUN OUT, THE SUN ON SUNDAY OUT) Liverpool U23 manager Neil Critchley during the PL2 game at The Kirkby Academy on January 13, 2020 in Kirkby, England. (Photo by Nick Taylor/Liverpool FC/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)

Five of Liverpool’s Merseyside derby heroes were given the night off despite all starring in Monday’s 5-0 victory against Southampton as Curtis Jones, Harvey Elliott, Pedro Chirivella, Yasser Larouci and Neco Williams were all absent.

The young Reds still remain top of Group F with seven points from their opening four games, although the Latics have closed the gap to three points with a game in hand.

It was the U23s second defeat of the new year as goals from goals by Emeka Obi, Divin Baningime and Oliver Crankshaw settled the contest at the Lancashire FA headquarters in Leyland.

Despite the defeat, Jurgen Klopp will be delighted when he receives the news of no fresh injury woes following the loss. Another shining light in the 3-0 defeat was the performance of teenager Ki-Jana Hoever.

The 18-year-old deputised for Williams at right-back despite Hoever preferring a central defensive role in the team. He showed another side to his already impressive attributes following a number of surging attacking runs.

The Netherland’s U18 prodigy is a player Klopp holds in very high esteem. He made his club debut at just 16 during the FA Cup third-round defeat to Wolves in 2018. Hoever also scored his first professional goal for the Reds during the 2-0 Carabao Cup victory against MK Dons in September.

Following Liverpool’s defeat against the Latics, many Reds supporters took to Twitter to showcase how impressed they were with the U23s youngster.

There were even comparisons to UEFA Player of the Year and Hoever’s fellow countryman Virgil van Dijk.

 

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