Profiling Liverpool’s four potential debutants vs. Exeter City

8 January 2016

With Jurgen Klopp set to name a much-changed side for tonight’s FA Cup clash with Exeter City, four players are likely to make their Liverpool debut.

Liverpool's potential debutants tonight: (L-R) Ryan Kent, Sheyi Ojo, Kevin Stewart and Tiago Ilori. (Photos via David Rawcliffe / Propaganda)
Liverpool’s potential debutants tonight: (L-R) Ryan Kent, Sheyi Ojo, Kevin Stewart and Tiago Ilori.

Injury to 13 first-team players has given Klopp little choice but to opt for a youthful side in the Reds’ FA Cup third round tie against Exeter at St. James Park.

With Jose Enrique set to come into the defence to make his first appearance in a year, the Spaniard could be the most experienced player in Klopp’s starting lineup.

Four players are likely to make their debut for Liverpool tonight, but who are they?


Tiago Ilori

COPENHAGEN, DENMARK - Wednesday, July 16, 2014: Liverpool's Tiago Ilori in action against Brondby IF during a preseason friendly match at Brøndby Stadion. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

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Age: 22
Position: CB

It is something of a mystery as to why Ilori is yet to feature for the Liverpool first team, after making the move to Merseyside as a 20-year-old in 2013, leaving Sporting CP in a deal worth £7 million.

At the time, Brendan Rodgers described Ilori as “a young talent but who can be a big talent,” but the Portuguese subsequently spent the next two years on loan with Granada, Bordeaux and Aston Villa.

Finding himself surplus to requirements at Villa, Ilori has returned to help Liverpool’s cause, with Klopp suffering from a host of injuries at centre-back.

Tall, composed and remarkably quick, Ilori could secure a long-term role under Klopp with a strong debut display.


Kevin Stewart

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COPENHAGEN, DENMARK - Wednesday, July 16, 2014: Liverpool's Kevin Stewart makes his debut against Brondby IF during a preseason friendly match at Brøndby Stadion. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Age: 22
Position: CM

A boyhood Liverpool supporter, Stewart left Tottenham Hotspur after a four-year association with the north London club, with Alex Inglethorpe instrumental in the then-20-year-old’s switch to Merseyside.

Stewart was considered a hugely promising talent when at Spurs, and was included in Harry Redknapp’s matchday squad for a 0-0 Europa League draw with PAOK in 2011. [td_ad_box spot_id=”custom_ad_1″]

Having failed to translate that potential to the first-team setup at Liverpool, Stewart has spent 2015 with spells at League Two sides Cheltenham Town and Burton Albion, before making seven appearances for League One outfit Swindon Town this season.

Recalled to Klopp’s squad for tonight’s clash, Stewart is likely to be deployed in midfield, though he is able to operate in a variety of roles, and could feature in defence if required.


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Ryan Kent

ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA - Sunday, July 19, 2015: Liverpool's Ryan Kent during a training session at Coopers Stadium ahead of a preseason friendly match against Adelaide United on day seven of the club's preseason tour. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Age: 19
Position: RW

Kent announced himself to a wider audience with a number of impressive performances for Liverpool’s U21s side after recovering from injury in 2015, before being named in Rodgers’ squad for the pre-season tour of the Far East and Australia.

Handed the No. 40 shirt for 2015/16, Kent may have anticipated a role in the Liverpool first team, but he joined Coventry City on loan in September.

When called upon by Coventry manager Tony Mowbray, Kent produced some strong displays in League One, though failed to establish himself as a key player at the Ricoh Arena.

Rejoining the Reds for 2016, Kent will be hoping his brand of skilful, pacy wide play can earn a regular role under Klopp, much like with Jordon Ibe and Rodgers in 2015. [td_ad_box spot_id=”custom_ad_2″]

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Sheyi Ojo

KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA - Friday, July 24, 2015: Liverpool's Sheyi Ojo in action against a Malaysia XI during a friendly match at the Bukit Jalil National Stadium on day twelve of the club's preseason tour. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Age: 18
Position: LW

Ojo cost Liverpool a massive £2 million when he joined from MK Dons in 2011, but his potential as a bullish, creative forward outlines just why the Reds were willing to spend.

Like Kent, Ojo spent the first half of 2015/16 on loan, enduring a hit-and-miss spell with Wolverhampton Wanderers, and Klopp clearly deemed it best for the 18-year-old’s development that he return to Merseyside this year.

Ojo is able to play all across the forward line, though is best suited to a role on the left wing, and that is where he is likely to feature against Exeter.

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Highly advanced in terms of his physicality when compared to other 18-year-olds in the Premier League, Ojo can use this to be his advantage against an experienced Grecians side. [td_ad_box spot_id=”custom_ad_3″]

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