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Ryan Kent aiming for Liverpool first-team role after impressive loan with Barnsley

Liverpool loanee Ryan Kent is hoping to make a mark on the first team under Jurgen Klopp, after his spell on loan with Championship outfit Barnsley.

Kent joined the Tykes on a season-long loan in July, and has been one of the biggest successes of the Reds’ temporary departures in 2016/17 so far.

The 20-year-old has played 36 games for Barnsley this term, including 30 starts in the Championship, scoring twice and assisting twice for the mid-table outfit.

While that is certainly a modest return, game time is the crucial factor during a youngster’s time away, and Kent is hoping to use the experience accrued to his advantage when he returns.

“The manager gave me my debut last year when I came back from Coventry and to see him giving out even more debuts this year and putting his trust in young players in big games is pivotal,” he told LFCTV.

“It inspires you. Not many clubs are giving young players these opportunities.

“So that’s more inspiration for me to go back to Liverpool in the summer, work hard in pre-season, and push forward for the first team.”

And if he does come back and establish himself under Jurgen Klopp, Kent believes he will have Barnsley manager Paul Heckingbottom to thank.

“There were numerous clubs interested in taking me on loan at the start of the season,” he continued.

“But after speaking to Paul Heckingbottom about what his philosophies are and how he wanted the team to play football, my mind was made up.

“I was impressed by what he had planned for me and developing my career. That really fitted in with what I needed to do around my identity as a football player.”

WIGAN, ENGLAND - Sunday, July 17, 2016: Liverpool's Ryan Kent in action against Wigan Athletic during a pre-season friendly match at the DW Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Kent featured during the Reds’ domestic pre-season friendlies, and as he mentioned, made his first-team debut for Klopp’s side against Exeter City in the FA Cup at the beginning of 2016.

Klopp is in the market for another wide player this summer, with Bayer Leverkusen’s Julian Brandt top of his list of targets, but Kent could provide another option.

His experience in the Championship may prove useful, while his direct attacking style would suit Klopp’s quick, transition-based system, though he will still face a fight to earn a place at Anfield.

With Philippe Coutinho and Sadio Mane firmly cemented as Klopp’s first-choice wingers on the left and right respectively, Kent would compete with the likes of Sheyi Ojo and Ben Woodburn for a backup role.

At 20, next season will be a pivotal one for the winger, as he enters his 15th year with the club, and it remains to be seen whether he can achieve his goals under Klopp.

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