Two Reds make debuts and Naby Keita scores – Liverpool FC Loan Watch

Six of Liverpool’s remaining loanees were in action, with two Reds making debuts including one first-ever professional appearance.

Ongoing winter breaks for three borrowed men and an injury to Jordan Williams meant only six loanees were available for match action this week.

Pleasingly, all of those available featured on what was an historic week for certain young Reds who began fresh adventures at new clubs.

Here’s how those that were in action fared.


Two Reds made debuts in the Football League…

DUBLIN, REPUBLIC OF IRELAND - Saturday, August 5, 2017: Liverpool's Ryan Kent during a preseason friendly match between Athletic Club Bilbao and Liverpool at the Aviva Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Ryan Kent enjoyed his first outing as a Bristol City player on Saturday, but it came in disappointing circumstances as the Robins suffered a 1-0 defeat to Norwich.

The winger entered the fray with 20 minutes left to play and the score still goalless, and he took up a wide-left position as manager Lee Johnson shuffled his pack in search of a winner.

Kent had little impact on proceedings—though did manage two shots—but understandably so, given he only joined the club on Friday and will need time to adapt to new teammates and surroundings.

Kent will now concentrate on settling in with a solid week of training, before hopefully being handed his first start in Friday’s upcoming clash of the promotion hopefuls against Derby County.

Academy midfielder Matty Virtue didn’t have to wait quite as long for his Football League debut under former Bolton midfielder and boyhood Red Kevin Nolan at Notts County.

BIRKENHEAD, ENGLAND - Tuesday, December 19, 2017: Liverpool's Matthew Virtue celebrates scoring the third goal during the Under-23 FA Premier League International Cup Group A match between Liverpool and PSV Eindhoven at Prenton Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Indeed, the 20-year-old was thrown straight into the Magpies’ starting XI for Saturday’s clash with fellow promotion hopefuls Lincoln City, taking up his preferred position in central midfield.

And Virtue, to his credit, marked a momentous occasion in his embryonic career with an impressive performance as he featured for an hour of an eventful 2-2 draw.

That included playing a key part in Notts County’s opener; Virtue, a busy presence throughout, kept County’s attack alive before sensibly laying the ball off for a cross to be delivered and converted.

Meanwhile, fellow League Two loanee Corey Whelan made his second appearance for Yeovil Town—having made his debut in the FA Cup last week—which was his first ever in the Football League.

The academy defender played only the closing minutes of a 1-1 draw against Port Vale, and Whelan will now hope he can enjoy further game-time as he progresses his career.


Three more Reds enjoyed match action…

Wolfsburg's Divock Origi ahead of the German Bundesliga soccer match between VfL Wolfsburg and Hanover 96 in the Volkswagen Arena in Wolfsburg, Germany, 9 September 2017. Photo: Silas Stein/dpa

The Bundesliga recommenced after the Christmas break this weekend, but Divock Origi made a muted return in Wolfsburg’s goalless draw with Borussia Dortmund.

The Belgian enjoyed an increasingly rare outing in his natural striking role, having featured heavily from the right wing pre-Christmas, and would have been looking to restart with a bang.

Origi wasn’t able to find the goal he wanted in what was a flat game that boasted plenty of Christmas hangovers, but he did at least play the full 90 minutes.

The Cypriot First Division was also back up and running this week, which therefore saw a return to action for Allan Rodrigues.

The Brazilian was left out of involvement for Apollon Limassol’s first post-Christmas clash with Paphos on Wednesday, but returned to the squad and the starting XI against Anothorsis on Sunday.

Allan took up his usual play-making role as part of his team’s two-man central midfield unit and he played every minute of a 1-1 draw, turning in typically tidy but unspectacular performance.

And back in the Football League, Sheyi Ojo’s quiet run of form continued with the youngster producing one of his less influential displays of the season in Fulham’s 1-0 win at Middlesbrough.

Pleasingly, Ojo continues to be an almost automatic, first-choice pick in Slavisa Jokanovic’s team, but the 20-year-old struggled to make an impact before being withdrawn after just 52 minutes.


Keita Watch

RB Leipzig - Porto / Fussball Champions League Leipzig, 17.10.2017, Red Bull Arena, Fussball, UEFA Champions League, Gruppe G, 3.Spieltag , Rasenballsport Leipzig vs. FC Porto , Im Bild; Naby Keita (8, RB Leipzig) , *** RB Leipzig Porto Football Champions League Leipzig 17 10 2017 Red Bull Arena Football UEFA Champions League Group G 3 Matchday Lawn ball sport Leipzig vs FC Porto in Picture Naby Keita 8 RB Leipzig.

The soon-to-be-Red picked up from where he left off ahead of the winter break, continuing his fine form with a goal in RB Leipzig’s 3-1 win over Schalke.

Keita opened the scoring on what Reds fans hoped would be his farewell appearance for the club with a goal that certainly won’t rank as one of the best of his career.

Fed the ball in space around 25 yards from goal, Keita’s strike found the net—but only thanks to the aid of a deflection which wrong-footed Schalke’s ‘keeper, as you can see here.

In fact the goal was so unspectacular that Keita’s celebration—or lack of—made more fuss.

His muted reaction was interpreted as an indication of his desire to make the early switch to Anfield, which has been confirmed by his club as definitely not happening this month.

Liverpool’s Loanees This Week

  • Origi – Played 90 mins vs. Borussia Dortmund
  • Kent – Played 21 mins vs. Norwich
  • Ojo – Played 52 mins vs. Middlesbrough
  • Allan – Left out of matchday squad vs. Paphos & played 90 mins vs. Anorthosis
  • Virtue – Played 60 mins vs. Lincoln
  • Whelan – Played stoppage time vs. Port Vale
  • Williams – N/A, injured
  • Awoniyi – N/A, winter break
  • Chirivella – N/A, winter break
  • Randall – N/A, winter break
  • Keita – Played 67 mins & scored vs. Schalke 04

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