Sheyi Ojo made his first appearance of the campaign as the Liverpool U23s lost 2-1 away to Leicester U23s on Saturday.
Leicester U23s 2-1 Liverpool U23s
Premier League International Cup, St. George’s Park
December 3, 2016
Goals: Ndukwu 50′, 77′; Wilson 45′
Following reports of Michael Beale’s impending departure to take over as assistant manager at Sao Paulo, the Liverpool U23 coach remained in charge as his side took on Leicester U23s on Saturday afternoon.
Travelling to St. George’s Park for their Premier League International Cup clash, the U23s’ lineup provided some hints as to Jurgen Klopp‘s squad against Bournemouth on Sunday.
There was no Trent Alexander-Arnold, Kevin Stewart, Ovie Ejaria or Ben Woodburn, but Beale was still able to call upon a number of players with first-team experience.
Most notably, this came in the form of Ojo and Joe Gomez, with the duo continuing their rehabilitation from respective injuries on a difficult afternoon for the Young Reds.
The first half proved a relatively even affair, with Leicester looking to carve open an experienced Liverpool defence including Gomez, Tiago Ilori and Mamadou Sakho.
Sakho is set to leave the club in January, but has produced a series of fine performances for the U23s this season, and helped deny the Foxes throughout the opening 45 minutes.
Harvey Barnes, Dylan Watts and Admiral Muskwe all had chances to break the deadlock, but Polish goalkeeper Kamil Grabara was able to keep Leicester at bay.
It fell to Liverpool captain Harry Wilson to net the opening goal, sending a powerful header beyond Max Bramley to ensure Beale’s side went into the interval with a 1-0 lead.
Leicester reduced the deficit not long after the break, however, as Barnes found Layton Ndukwu in the Liverpool half, with the 18-year-old curling home an equaliser.
This saw Gomez concede his first goal since returning from a long-term ACL injury, after keeping clean sheets against Accrington Stanley, Burnley and Derby County, though the 19-year-old’s fitness remains the key positive, playing another 90 minutes.
There was little Gomez, Sakho, Ilori or Grabara could do as Ndukwu added his second on 77 minutes, with the Foxes youngster scoring a remarkable goal from the halfway line to put his side 2-1 up.
Defeat ends the U23s’ six-game unbeaten run, and sees Beale’s side drop out of the Premier League International Cup, bottom of their group behind Leicester, FC Porto and VfL Wolfsburg.
TIA Man of the Match: Harry Wilson
Leicester U23s: Bramley; Johnson, Kipre, Benalouane, Chilwell; Miles, Watts, Barnes, Ndukwu; Mitchell, Muskwe
Substitutes: Yates, Moore, Wood, Uche, Bolkiah
Liverpool U23s: Grabara; Gomez, Ilori, Sakho, Juanma; Williams, Chirivella (Alves 65′), Brannagan (Madger 65′); Wilson, Ojo (Virtue 65′), Lennon
Subs not used: Atherton, Whelan, Brimmer, Gomes
Next match: West Brom U23s (H) – Premier League Cup – December 6