Lining up in the young Reds’ attack at Prenton Park against City, the former Burnley striker joined a strong side.
But after going close with a lofted effort on 19 minutes, he was replaced by 18-year-old forward Yan Dhanda, heading down the tunnel in Birkenhead for further treatment.
With Ings having suffered two serious knee injuries in the past two seasons, Critchley revealed he had been withdrawn as “more a precaution than anything.”
Nevertheless it serves as a blow to his hopes of returning to the first-team fold.
With City presenting a tough challenge in front of the home crowd, the young Reds worked hard for their opportunities in the first half.
Beyond Ings’ effort, and two more close calls from the striker, Wilson struck the post with a free-kick and Brewster drew a strong save from City goalkeeper Daniel Grimshaw.
Brewster remained a threat throughout the second half, while Wilson went close to putting the U23s ahead with another free-kick.
But it was Ings’ replacement, former West Brom youth Dhanda, who sealed the victory, driving down the left channel before cutting onto his right and curling beyond Grimshaw.
Next up for the U23s is a trip to take on West Ham in Premier League 2 on September 18, before clashes with Tottenham in the league (September 22) and Charlton Athletic in the Premier League Cup (September 29).
Some of Critchley’s charges, like Coyle, Dhanda and Brewster, could also feature in the U19s’ UEFA Youth League clashes with Sevilla (September 13) and Spartak Moscow (September 26).
Liverpool U23s: Grabara; Whelan, Jones, Phillips, Johnston; Coyle (Brannagan 64′), Virtue, Grujic; Wilson, Ings (Dhanda 42′), Brewster (Adekanye 79′)
Subs not used: Kelleher, Masterson