Jurgen Klopp and his first-team staff were in attendance at Kirkby as the Liverpool under-23s were held to a 0-0 draw with Southampton – with two injury concerns overshadowing what was an encouraging performance from Barry Lewtas’ young Reds.
With the senior sqaud completing the switch to the club’s £50 million AXA Training Centre over the international break, the Liverpool manager wasted little time in reaping the benefits of Liverpool’s new training complex.
Klopp, Pep Lijnders, Vitor Matos and John Achterberg all made the short walk from their offices to the Academy pitch as Liverpool’s coaching staff observed the U23s – who moved top of Premier League 2 following their draw with the Saints.
Lewtas made five changes to the team that was in action against West Ham before the international break, which was largely due to Klopp’s first-team plans for the Leicester clash tomorrow afternoon.
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Jake Cain and Leighton Clarkson were also rested with the midfield duo watching proceedings from the sidelines. Their absence handed an inaugural appearance with Lewtas for U18s debutant Tyler Mortan.
Attacking talents Paul Glatzel and Liam Millar also started having trained with the first team during the international break, with the latter handed the captaincy as well as the best chance of the first-half after his deflected effort struck the post.
There was a real moment of concern for Lewtas after Paul Glatzel, who was making only his second start of the season, was forced off at half-time due to injury and was seen heading down the tunnel at the break with Klopp’s arm wrapped around the 19-year-old striker.
It was a cruel blow for the young Scouser who missed the entirety of the 2019/20 campaign due to an ACL injury.
In a pre-season friendly with Tranmere Rovers last summer, Glatzel suffered a cruciate ligament injury which kept him out of action for the best part of a year.
Lewtas’ pain was compounded when substitute Joe Hardy, who after only minutes of coming on, was forced off on a stretcher as a result of a bad challenge in his own half.
It was a sickening blow for the former Manchester City man who is highly-rated by those who have worked with him on Merseyside.
Neil Critchley, Liverpool’s former Under-23 boss before he joined Blackpool, spoke glowingly of Hardy back in February after he netted twice against Sunderland.
The Echo quote Critchley as saying: “Joe is a good finisher off both feet, as you saw against Sunderland. He is a proper goalscorer and is great for us.”
Hopefully, contrasting setbacks to Hardy and Glatzel aren’t too serious and further assessments come back positive as injury woes continuing to rock the club from the Academy to the first-team.