While Jurgen Klopp’s senior team finalise preparations for their FA Cup fifth-round clash at Chelsea, Barry Lewtas will be overseeing Liverpool U19s vital UEFA Youth League last-16 clash against Benfica.
The European bout is a gargantuan fixture for the young Reds with Klopp himself demonstrating the magnitude of the game after the German manager confirmed Harvey Elliott will be unable to feature in Tuesday’s FA Cup tie at Chelsea due to his participation in the UEFA Youth League.
Speaking at a press conference on Monday, Klopp said: “Harvey went with the U19s, the others not. How I said, we have a big squad and we can make decisions and we will make decisions.
“It’s about who is ready for this game, how we can line up a team which we really think having fresh legs can fight really against this team, can defend Chelsea like they have to be defended and all these kind of things. That’s what the line-up is about.
“We had a decision with Harvey and we had to make it a bit earlier because he had a little problem with his back on Friday, but it is good again and that’s why he can play there.”
Neco Williams, Curtis Jones and Ki-Jana Hoever are also unavailable for the clash in Portugal with the trio all involved with the senior side at Stamford Bridge.
The encounter at Benfica’s academy is on the same day as the Reds’ first-team face Chelsea in the FA Cup, but regardless of the personnel he has lost to the senior set-up, Lewtas still has a number of talented players at his disposal.
Here we analyse three players supporters should keep a close eye on for Liverpool’s European knockout bout.
The 18-year-old has been an ever-present figure in Neil Critchley’s U23s set-up this season as well as an integral part of the UEFA Youth League U19 team led by Barry Lewtas.
Kopites may best know the Reds youngster after Boyes made his professional debut for the European champions back in December during Liverpool’s Carabao Cup quarter-final defeat against Aston Villa.
At international level, the Liverpool youngster has been recognised by his home country Wales and has made nine appearances at U19 level.
Boyes has been with the club since pre-Academy level, before joining the Reds U11 group and progressing through the ranks at Kirkby. He is now a regular member of Jurgen Klopp’s first-team set-up at Melwood.
Jake Cain joined the Academy at the age of nine and signed his first professional contract with the club in September 2019.
The talented playmaker from Wigan and joined the Reds at nine-years-old. Last season he was part of the Liverpool squad that won the FA Youth Cup for the first time since 2007.
So far this campaign he has taken his game to a whole new level. Playing for both the Liverpool U18’s and U23’s he has been an integral player for the young Reds.
Despite being a midfielder, he has a real eye for goal and has clocked up 24 appearances so far this season. He started five of Liverpool’s six group matches and was on the scoresheet during the Reds’ 7-0 victory against Napoli.
Originally located not too far from Anfield hailing at the Wirral, Hardy started his career at Manchester City, joining the current PL holders as a youth player in 2015.
Hardy clocked up 19 appearances for the Citizens in the Under-18s Premier League, converting 11 times in the process whilst also registering five assists in the 2016/17 campaign.
He quickly made the leap to the club’s U23s set-up making just two appearances before Brentford came knocking on the door leaving Hardy with a huge decision to make.
After making the choice to leave City in the midst of Pep Guardiola’s inaugural season, Hardy chose to join up at Griffin Park in 2017.
Despite not featuring for the first team this season, Hardy bagged three in five appearances for Brentford B.
Since his Liverpool arrival, Hardy has five goals in six appearances under Critchley and was on the scoresheet yet again as the young Reds brushed aside Huddersfield Town at Kirkby on Friday evening.
Direct with his running and good in the air, Hardy has an act for scoring what some would describe as a ‘poacher’s goal’. In one-on-one situations, the striker showcases great maturity and is someone that certainly backs himself when in front of goal.