With Liverpool’s academy production line the healthiest it has been for many years, U23s left-back Adam Lewis is setting his sights on a first-team place.
The Reds’ youth ranks are littered with high-potential talents, from the likes Edvard Tagseth, Bobby Duncan and Paul Glatzel in the U18s to those on the first-team fringes such as Caoimhin Kelleher and Curtis Jones.
Neil Critchley has welcomed a host of senior hopefuls into his U23s squad this season as his more experienced charges depart on loan, with the 39-year-old particularly spoiled at full-back.
Along with Wrexham native Neco Williams at right-back, Lewis is carving out a role as Critchley’s first-choice left-back, while also showcasing his versatility in the middle of the park.
At just 18, Lewis is arguably the U23s’ standout, so what can we expect from the young Scouser moving forward?
Position: Left-Back, Central Midfielder
Signed from: N/A
Born in the city and a lifelong supporter, Lewis has been on the club’s books ever since he was able to play, having joined at U6 level.
Speaking to LiverpoolFC.com back in 2017, he highlighted a commitment to the Reds familiar with the likes of Jones, Liam Coyle and Trent Alexander-Arnold.
“I’m a Liverpool supporter, I want to be a Liverpool player and it was 100 percent Liverpool for me,” he explained.
“It means absolutely everything for me to put on that red shirt every week. Every time I put on that red shirt I get really excited.”
This mentality is reinforced by a burgeoning talent, which he has honed through his swift rise through the age levels in the academy: he stepped up to the U18s in 2016/17, before joining the U23s midway through last season.
While he bridged the gap between U18s and U23s, he wore the captain’s armband for Steven Gerrard’s side, with the Liverpool legend recognising his will to win.
Lewis’ determination has landed him in trouble on the pitch, such as with a red card in the U18s’ 2-2 draw with Man United in 2017.
But it has also allowed him to battle through adversity, having broken his leg prior to his promotion from the U16s the previous year.
His move up to the U18s came with a change in position, with Critchley retraining him as a left-back after previously making his mark in midfield.
Designed to hone his all-round game, having showcased his technical quality as a No. 10, this adaptation allowed Lewis to catch the eye at both ends of the pitch.
Lewis’ key attribute remains his delivery from both open play and set-pieces, but his swift passing play and positional awareness have certainly improved, while his tenacity aids his efforts in defence.
He is comparable to Andy Robertson in terms of his overlapping runs and attacking contribution, with the teenager ever-willing as he drives into the final third.
Both from deep and cutting back from the byline, his crosses provide the U23s with their key outlet, while he has caught the eye on a number of occasions from free-kicks.
His pièce de résistance came with a sensational curled strike from the right-hand side of the box in the 2-1 defeat to United in Premier League 2 in March, bending his set-piece in off the far post at the Kop end.
A shift back into a roving midfield duty in the U23s’ recent loss to West Ham saw Lewis take centre stage, and this ability to switch between roles will certainly aid his progress.
It is at left-back, however, where he sees his long-term future, with Robertson his role model.
However, he told LFCTV in August that “as long as I’m in the starting XI I’m not really bothered as it’s for the good of the team.”
“Obviously I’d rather play left-back because that’s where I’ve learned most things and I want to kick on in the position.
“Looking at the first team, there are obviously two left-backs ahead of me so that makes me determined to be a left-back.
“[Robertson] is a perfect example for me. I like the energy he has got and I try to play in a similar way.
“What I’ve got to look at and improve upon is the defending side of my game.
“I’ve got to bring that into my game and hopefully I can give him a challenge in a few years.”
He is right to identify his off-ball work as having room for improvement, but can take encouragement from Gerrard’s praise of his attacking approach in November.
“Going forward, I haven’t seen anyone as good as him at that age, in terms of quality and what he can deliver in the final third,” the Reds’ old No. 8 enthused.
Interestingly, Critchley compared Lewis with Alexander-Arnold when hailing his “excellent” display against the Hammers at Kirkby.
“I don’t think it harms him playing both left-back and midfield at the moment. He’s similar to Trent in that way,” he told LiverpoolFC.com.
“He’s capable of playing both and his versatility could be a real plus for him going forward.”
It is worth noting that when both Gerrard and Critchley discussed Lewis’ talents, this came with a clear sense of the trajectory he is following into the first team.
With the likes of Kelleher, Jones, Rafa Camacho, Nat Phillips and Kamil Grabara being given opportunities by Klopp in recent months, it seems only a matter of time before Lewis is called upon.
He has already trained under the first-team manager on a number of occasions, including at the mid-season training camp in Tenerife in 2017 and regularly at Melwood since the turn of the year.
The teenager is also making swift progress through the international ranks, too, having been part of the England U19s’ unsuccessful defence of the European Championship in the summer.
Lewis is now with the U20s, and will no doubt benefit from working with a plethora of top talents at that level, with Reece James, Ronaldo Vieira and Reiss Nelson among his team-mates.
His ambition is clearly to break into the senior setup in the near future, and with Alberto Moreno in the final year of his contract he could spot an opportunity.
It seems a stretch to suggest he will assume duties as backup to Robertson at this stage, but Lewis has certainly got the potential to if he continues to develop under Critchley.