Liverpool U23s end 2016 with 4-4 friendly draw at home to Wigan Athletic

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The Liverpool U23s put on a rollercoaster friendly clash with Wigan Athletic on Friday afternoon, ending in a 4-4 draw.

Halfway through 2016/17, the Young Reds have won 16 games, including victory in friendlies over Odense BK, the Qatar U20s, Kilmarnock, Runcorn Town Hangzhou Greentown and Chester.

These less-intensive fixtures allow the U23s to maintain their fitness during a stop-start season, in which they have been competing on four fronts.

As a festive break from Premier League 2, the Premier League Cup, Premier League International Cup and the Lancashire Senior Cup, Friday’s Kirkby clash proved a thrilling affair.

Mike Garrity named the likes of Joe Gomez, Tiago Ilori, Pedro Chirivella, Harry Wilson and Sheyi Ojo in his starting lineup.

Shamal George kept his place in goal, with Ilori and Gomez operating at centre-back in the absence of Mamadou Sakho, who is expected to leave the club in the January transfer window.

Both Gomez and Ojo continued working their way back from injury, with their inclusion suggesting they won’t take part against either Manchester City (December 31) or Sunderland (January 2) in the upcoming first-team fixtures.

Ojo, who has been in fine form since his return from a back injury, made his mark within 10 minutes, scoring the opening goal—though this was promptly cancelled out by the Latics.

KIRKBY, ENGLAND - Monday, August 15, 2016: Liverpool's Toni Gomes in action against Blackburn Rovers during the Under-18 FA Premier League match at the Kirkby Academy. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Spanish left-back Juanma then set Toni Gomes up for the U23s’ second, while Wilson made it 3-1 from a Chirivella delivery.

The first half ended at 3-2, following another Wigan strike, with the visitors then clawing back to a 4-3 lead in disappointing fashion.

However, before the final whistle could be blown, Gomes added his second of the afternoon late on, rounding off a football feast for those watching on at Kirkby.

The main positive to take from this result came with another 90 minutes for ex-Charlton Athletic defender Gomez, who could be primed to make the step back up to the first team in the New Year, with Lucas Leiva likely to join Inter Milan on loan.

However, there was disappointment for Ojo as he was forced to limp off with a knock in the second half, though the extent of his injury remains to be seen.

The U23s are next in action on January 4, when they take on Bangor City in another friendly.

Liverpool U23s: George; Whelan, Ilori, Gomez, Juanma; Chirivella, Williams, Virtue; Wilson, Ojo, Gomes

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