LONDON: Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp has hailed his crop of youngsters for seizing their opportunities in recent weeks and helping the Premier League champions cope with the loss of veteran first-team players through injury.
Goalkeeper Alisson and defenders Trent Alexander-Arnold, Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez were the bedrock of Liverpool’s title-winning campaign in 2019-20 but have all missed significant portions of the current season, forcing Klopp to dip into the club’s youth system.
Curtis Jones, Neco Williams and Rhys Williams have all made seamless transitions into the first team, with goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher deputising for Alisson with two clean sheets in as many games after making his senior debut.
“We had some problems injury-wise and that’s clear – we lost top, top class players to injuries,” Klopp told reporters ahead of Wednesday’s Champions League trip to Midtjylland. “When one door closes another one opens but you still need the right players to use the chance and all of the boys did it.
“I can go through all of the boys – what Rhys has done in the Champions League so far is exceptional, Neco has played two really good games in a row, Curtis plays like he has been at the club for 10 years and Caoimhin was always a talent but he’s now getting the chance to show that on a big stage.
“Without these players, we would have been lost, to be honest. Thank God it turned out the way it did. The big part is that they were really well-prepared, that’s why we’ve been able to use them in the way we have used them.”
Liverpool have already clinched top spot in Group D with 12 points from five games, while Midtjylland are bottom with just one point. – Reuters