Discussion in 'The Football Forum' started by King Binny, Sep 25, 2020.
Jack Bearne again
Some tackle. Ruddock would be proud.
Well hung, is he?
Jay Spearing on the bench for Tranmere.
Fidel on the bench.
Jake Cain's goal at 1:40 min
The 17-year-old striker was picked out by Alex Inglethorpe last summer and has made rapid progress with the Reds since
“You want me to give you a name?” says Alex Inglethorpe with a knowing smile. “Surprise surprise!”
We are sat in his office on the first floor of Liverpool’s Academy building in Kirkby, and Inglethorpe is in good spirits.
It is a fortnight before the Champions League final, where the Reds’ senior side will clinch a sixth European Cup success against Tottenham, his former club.
In an informative, hour-long chat, we have reflected on his time at Spurs , coaching the likes of Harry Kane, Danny Rose, Andros Townsend and Harry Winks.
We have spoken about England and the raft of talent emerging through the age groups, and about Trent Alexander-Arnold, whose rise to stardom has been as rapid and as impressive as any.
It’s the next generation, though, which really interests Goal , and Inglethorpe too.
“OK, a name,” Liverpool's Academy director says, fixing a stare. “Layton Stewart. Look out for him; he can be anything he wants to be.”
High praise, indeed. Especially given Inglethorpe, earlier in our conversation, had described himself as someone who “is not easily pleased".
Stewart, though, has his attention. And given what the young striker has shown in the last 10 months, we can safely say that Inglethorpe knows a player when he sees one.
With 16 goals, the young Scouser has impressed in his first full season at under-18 level. And though his progress has been slowed by an ankle ligament injury of late, the 17-year-old has already shown enough to catch the eye of Jurgen Klopp.
Stewart, Huyton-born and a lifelong Liverpudlian, has already had a taste of what it’s like to be a first-team player at Anfield.
He’s trained with Klopp’s senior group at Melwood, and in December he was on the bench, albeit in unusual circumstances, as with the first-team in Qatar for the Club World Cup, Neil Critchley’s under-23 side lost at Aston Villa in the Carabao Cup quarter-final .
Stewart had only made his Premier League 2 debut the previous weekend, but his goalscoring instinct, his sharpness and his personality have helped him climb the ladder swiftly.
“I like the pressure,” he says, and his record this season suggests he’s absolutely spot on.
There have been big goals – a late, spectacularly-taken winner against Stoke and a last-gasp equaliser at Napoli in the UEFA Youth League, for example – and goals in big games.
Stewart netted against both Everton and Manchester United, and in November was on target against Football League opposition as the Reds’ Leasing.com Trophy campaign took them to League One side Accrington.
“He’s been with us a long time,” says under-18s coach Barry Lewtas , who worked with Stewart previously as an under-16.
“The journey is a long one, there are plenty of parts he wants to improve but in fairness to him, he’s been attentive, he’s bought in from day one and he’s been listening every day.”
Stewart certainly has something. See his finish against Stoke for example; a deft, first-time flick with the outside of his foot over an advancing goalkeeper, or witness his superb assist for Jack Bearne’s winner away at Salzburg in December.
There is something of Fernando Torres about him in the way he slows down defenders before accelerating sharply into space behind them. Confidence, clearly, is no issue.
“I like being within the goalframe,” he told LFCTV recently. “My main attribute is running forward, getting in behind defenders.”
His development, of course, is ongoing. Prior to his injury, he had been working with Inglethorpe and Reds legend Steve Heighway to improve his heading, while Lewtas has had him focusing on being on the half-turn when receiving the ball, asking him to stay involved in games even when things are not falling as he would like.
“He pushes me every day,” Stewart says.
Coming from a family of Reds – “it runs right through us,” he says – there is pride every time he pulls on the red shirt. His mum attends each and every game, and the rise of Alexander-Arnold, a fellow Rainhill High School pupil, with the first team provides an obvious inspiration.
Watching the movement of Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane and Mo Salah from his seat in the stands at Anfield, meanwhile, can only benefit a young frontman.
Sooner or later, though, he hopes to have a closer view of such players. In January, he signed his first professional contract. The hard work starts now.
“I want to be around the first team,” Stewart says.
He’s got a long way to go, for sure. The road to the top is fraught with danger, however talented you are.
But if Stewart wanted to prove Inglethorpe right, that he can be anything he wants, then he’s not started badly.
Layton Stewart is on fire
No surprise start for Rhys Williams tonight then
Liverpool U23s produced a fine display to beat Chelsea 3-1 in Premier League 2 on Saturday afternoon.
Rhys Williams' excellent week continued as he followed up his Champions League debut by opening the scoring at the Kirkby Academy with an unstoppable header.
Jake Cain then doubled the young Reds' lead with his third converted free-kick of the season before captain Liam Millar scored from the penalty spot.
Chelsea pulled one back through Bryan Fiabema from 12 yards out in the closing stages.
A strong, probing start delivered well-deserved rewards for Barry Lewtas' side. They were three goals ahead with barely 20 minutes on the clock.
Williams' header broke the deadlock when he leapt highest from Cain's corner and connected powerfully with the ball, which made its way into the top corner.
The second arrived from another set-piece, with Cain stepping up to take a free-kick right on the edge of the box. Catching the goalkeeper somewhat off-guard, the midfielder whipped his effort in at the near post.
And it was 3-0 in minute 21 when Jack Bearne was brought down by stopper Lucas Bergstrom after bursting through on goal following Remi Savage's ball over the top. Millar took responsibility from the spot to net his first Premier League 2 goal of the campaign.
Chelsea returned from the half-time break in search of a route back into the game. One came 10 minutes into the second period, but Tino Anjorin couldn't convert at the back post from close range.
Williams' was withdrawn just past the hour mark and replaced by Matteo Ritaccio, who made an encouraging return from injury.
Liverpool custodian Vitezslav Jaros then pulled off a great reactionary save to deny Baba Rahman, but was then adjudged to have brought down Ben Elliott inside the box.
Fiabema scored the penalty with 10 minutes left, though Liverpool ensured it remained just a consolation goal.
Liverpool U23s: Jaros, Sharif, Savage, Williams (Ritaccio, 62), Van den Berg, Clayton, Bearne (Larouci, 78), Dixon-Bonner, Longstaff, Cain, Millar.
Unused substitutes: Winterbottom, Hardy, O’Rourke.
Liverpool U18s produced a fine display on Saturday morning to defeat Everton 4-0 in the mini-derby at Finch Farm.
Coach Marc Bridge-Wilkinson was able to welcome back Tyler Morton, Lee Jonas and Luca Stephenson to the starting line-up, and the Reds started brightly.
A nice exchange of passes brought the ball to James Balagizi and the midfielder’s powerful shot left the crossbar shaking.
The Reds took the lead just after the quarter-hour mark when Everton failed to properly clear a corner. The ball was recycled to Melkamu Frauendorf, who produced a wonderful turn and finish for the German youth international’s first goal for the club.
Everton looked to hit straight back but Tom Cannon screwed his shot well wide, and within a minute Liverpool had stretched their advantage.
There seemed little danger as the ball came to Layton Stewart out on the left, but his strong cross-shot somehow found its way into the back of the net, possibly via a deflection from Reece Welch. It was Stewart’s ninth goal of the season.
Everton left-back Thierry Small had a good battle all half with the very tidy Sean Wilson on the Reds’ right and the Blues’ player sent over a good cross for captain Sean McAllister, but Jakub Ojrzynski gathered his header easily.
The home side threatened again with 10 minutes of the half remaining, Cannon heading down a cross from the right but Lewis Dobbin scuffed his shot.
The Reds finished the half on top with Balagizi playing in Frauendorf, who was denied twice by Zan-Luk Leban before Stewart’s low shot brought another sprawling save from the Blues ‘keeper.
But the last five minutes of the half still brought another two goals for the visitors.
First, Tyler Morton’s fine corner to the back post was met on the volley by Jonas and his effort floated across goal and into the far corner.
And just before the whistle, Max Woltman was rewarded for excellent recent form, finishing off some good build-up work from Wilson to make it 4-0 at the break.
The second period saw the Reds threaten first again, Stewart escaping a lunging tackle down the left and only the keeper’s fingertips took his cross away from the advancing Frauendorf.
Everton were looking for a way back into the game and almost got it through Dobbin’s low shot, but Ojrzynski tipped it onto the post.
Wilson sent a low skimmer just past the post, while Stewart escaped his marker to threaten in behind a couple of times.
Commitment and strong tackles continued but the Reds were well in control and saw out the game comfortably to follow up last year’s 6-1 win at the same venue.
Liverpool U18s: Ojrzynski, Wilson, Chambers (Corness, 89), Quansah, Jonas, Morton (Mabaye, 60), Balagizi, Stephenson, Stewart, Woltman, Frauendorf (Cannonier, 87).
Unused substitutes: Fabian Mrozek, Mateusz Musialowski.
Remi Savage... what a name!
All 3 goals here:
Liverpool fans could get another look at Jake Cain tonight after the youngster was named on the bench for the Champions League group stage clash against FC Midtjylland.
But Cain had already announced himself in the eyes of Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp.
“So now, the first glimpses of Neco Williams," Klopp had said earlier this summer.
"Curtis, Harvey, Ki-Jana, Sepp, Yasser, Leighton, Jake Cain: all these boys have done really well."
Eight names. Six of them, surely, would have been familiar with Reds fans. Maybe even seven after Leighton Clarkson scored a stunning goal behind-closed-doors against Blackburn Rovers at Anfield before the resumption of the Premier League.
Neco Williams, Curtis Jones and Harvey Elliott had all been breakout stars of a title-winning season while Ki-Jana Hoever and Sepp van den Berg both received media attention after joining from Ajax and PEC Zwolle respectively.
Hoever would depart Anfield for Wolves later in the summer, and another on the list, Yasser Larouci, had been expected to follow suit before staying at Anfield.
Last, but certainly not least, was Cain.
Versatile and intelligent, the left-footer can play in a number of midfield roles and has consistently delivered goals and assists throughout his time at Liverpool.
In short, he is a Klopp midfielder. Bright on the ball, forward thinking and positive, he has enjoyed a dream year at Liverpool after joining the academy as a nine year-old.
FA Youth Cup winner? Check. First professional contract? Yep.
Senior debut? Training regularly with the first-team? Another fresh deal signed this summer?
Check. Check. Check.
Cain bounced back from the disappointment of being left out of the youthful Carabao Cup side that lost to Aston Villa in the quarter-final in December to play a key role in the FA Cup fourth round replay win over Shrewsbury Town two months later.
The 18-year-old was instrumental in midfield alongside Clarkson and Jones - who he came through the age-groups with at Kirkby - and has continued to be involved with first-team training ever since.
He is part of a core academy group that also includes Paul Glatzel, Clarkson and Van den Berg who are pushing to catch the eye of Klopp and Pep Lijnders every single day.
Those close to Cain admit that he has surpassed even their high expectations over the last 12 months but insist his quality was never in doubt.
Regular observers have told the ECHO his running power and is something to behold and early comparisons to Jordan Henderson have been made.
But Cain will take no notice of that. Not yet, anyway.
For now, he is targeting a dominant year at under-23 level in the same way that his team-mate Jones - who also agreed a new contract this summer - did last term before forcing his way into the senior fold.
Cain has already worked extensively with the first-team in training but the upcoming move to a new £50m facility in Kirkby will give him further opportunities to catch the eye.
There is a feeling amongst some that Cain has gone under the radar while others have garnered headlines. But this is somewhat fitting to the personality of the player.
"This is just a start for me," he said after making his first-team debut.
"You’ve got to keep on working hard and wait for the next opportunity that you get. It’s important to keep working hard every day in training and keep pushing. I’ve not cracked it, none of us have and we know that.
"I just want to keep on playing more games with the u-23s and keep improving. I want to get more goals and assists but personally I just want to see the team playing well and winning, and be a part of that."
Humble and hard-working off-the-pitch. Exciting, dynamic and downright selfless on it.
Cain has already been name-dropped once by Klopp.
It is sure to be the first of many.