PORTO, PORTUGAL - Wednesday, February 14, 2018: Liverpool's unused player Nathaniel Clyne before the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 1st leg match between FC Porto and Liverpool FC on Valentine's Day at the Estádio do Dragão. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Nathaniel Clyne returns as Dominic Solanke fires strong Liverpool U23s to last 16

Nathaniel Clyne played his first 90 minutes in seven months as the Liverpool U23s won 4-0 away to Stoke City in the Premier League Cup on Sunday.

Stoke U23s 0-4 Liverpool U23s

Premier League Cup, St. George’s Park
February 25, 2018

Goals: Solanke 25′, 40′, 67′, Adekanye 84′

The young Reds arrived at the England national team’s training base needing just a point to advance to the last 16, but Neil Critchley set his side up for all three.

Critchley, who will have privately lamented the departures of a host of his more senior figures in the January transfer window, was able to call upon Clyne along with Joe Gomez and Dominic Solanke.

His starting lineup still included eight teenagers, with three 17-year-olds in Elijah Dixon-Bonner, Curtis Jones and Rafa Camacho and an 18-year-old in winter signing Tony Gallacher.

Despite their youth, Liverpool took to the field significantly stronger than their opposition, and it certainly showed.

STOKE-ON-TRENT, ENGLAND - Wednesday, November 29, 2017: Liverpool's Dominic Solanke during the FA Premier League match between Stoke City and Liverpool at the Bet365 Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

  • Clyne plays full 90 minutes in first outing since June
  • Gomez and Solanke provide further experience in youthful U23s side
  • Solanke nets hat-trick and Adekanye scores in resounding win
  • Kane shown straight red card for lashing out following late tackle
  • Young Reds through to last 16 of Premier League Cup

As expected, Liverpool dominated throughout the first half at St George’s Park, with their experienced spine furnished with youthful enthusiasm.

Clyne presented a solid outlet on the right flank supporting Camacho, who has enjoyed a dream week: scoring a wonder-goal for the U19s on Wednesday and training with the first team on Thursday.

The U23s’ new captain, Herbie Kane, dictated play from the middle of the park, and it was the 19-year-old’s excellent pass that set up Solanke for his first goal of the evening.

Fired up by his opener, Solanke provided the young Reds with a strong physical presence, regularly dropping deep, holding the ball up for the likes of Camacho and Yan Dhanda.

He continued to spearhead attacks, too, and was on hand to fire home a powerful left-footed effort from inside the box to make it 2-0, with Jones grabbing the assist.

BIRKENHEAD, ENGLAND - Sunday, October 29, 2017: Liverpool's manager Neil Critchley during the Under-23 FA Premier League 2 Division 1 match between Liverpool and Leicester City at Prenton Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Clyne remained on the field after the break, providing an encouraging update on his fitness as he works his way back to first-team contention.

The second half began in decidedly less intensive fashion as the sun went down in freezing-cold Staffordshire, with the U23s’ control providing Critchley the opportunity to introduce Adam Lewis in midfield.

Lewis was soon involved in a forward charge along with Jones and the hardworking Camacho, with the former cutting the ball back for Solanke to complete his hat-trick from a yard out.

Camacho was replaced by Bobby Adekanye on 68 minutes, and the Dutch winger built on his excellent display for the U19s in midweek by scoring a brilliant goal for the young Reds’ fourth.

A series of powerful surges down the right flank saw Clyne remind spectators of his vitality, and clearly convinced Critchley too, with the 26-year-old remaining on the pitch throughout.

The final whistle blew with the score at a resounding 4-0, capping a great weekend for the club after wins for both the first team and the U18s on Saturday, only soured by a late red card for Kane.

TIA Man of the Match: Curtis Jones

Liverpool: Grabara; Clyne, Gomez, Johnston, Gallacher; Dixon-Bonner (Lewis 56′), Kane; Camacho (Adekanye 68′), Jones, Dhanda; Solanke

Subs not used: Kelleher, Masterson, Gomes

Next Match: Porto (H) – Premier League International Cup – February 28

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