The 6 Liverpool youngsters Jurgen Klopp ran the rule over this international break

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With the majority of his first-team on international duty this week, Jurgen Klopp included six academy players in a small-sided training session on Monday.

Thirty-one Reds joined up with their respective national teams for the interval, with Alisson, Fabinho, Andy Robertson and Roberto Firmino among the last in action.

With a trip to Watford to come in the Premier League on Saturday, however, Klopp has already began work at Melwood without most of his key names.

Joel Matip, Nathaniel Clyne, Alberto Moreno, Pedro Chirivella, James Milner and Daniel Sturridge were all involved on Monday, though there was no sign of Adam Lallana.

The senior group were split up as part of a six-a-side game led by Pepijn Lijnders, whose presence in training has provided opportunities for a host of youngsters.

Here’s the lowdown on the six called up from Kirkby this week.

 

Dan Atherton & Ben Williams

STOKE-ON-TRENT, ENGLAND - Saturday, September 9, 2017: Liverpool's goalkeeper Daniel Atherton during an Under-18 FA Premier League match between Stoke City and Liverpool at the Clayton Wood Training Ground. (Pic by Laura Malkin/Propaganda)

Liverpool’s backup academy goalkeepers, Atherton, 18, and Williams, 19, regularly serve as deputies to Kamil Grabara, Caoimhin Kelleher and Viteszlav Jaros.

With one of Grabara or Kelleher typically part of the first-team squad on matchdays, Atherton usually finds himself on the bench for the U23s, while Williams does the same for the U18s.

Williams featured for the Sheffield Wednesday U23s against Bristol City in April during a trial spell, but failed to secure a permanent move before heading back to Merseyside.

Meanwhile, Atherton’s scholarship with the Reds was extended over the summer, and as local lads their presence at Kirkby is often praised.

 

George Johnston

LONDON, ENGLAND - Friday, August 17, 2018: Liverpool's George Johnston during the Under-23 FA Premier League 2 Division 1 match between Arsenal FC and Liverpool FC at Meadow Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

After starting on the bench for the Scotland U20s’ 2-0 defeat to Turkey on Saturday, Johnston was back on Merseyside ahead of the Liverpool U23s’ clash with Villarreal on Wednesday night.

The 20-year-old made an appearance for the first team in the final pre-season friendly against Torino in August, but has returned to academy duty since.

There, he has formed part of a struggling defence under Neil Critchley, with a lack of stability in terms of his centre-back partner undermining the young Reds’ efforts.

An ever-present himself, so far Johnston has partnered Corey Whelan, Nat Phillips, Juanma and Conor Masterson at the back, to varying degrees of success.

The hope is the return of the latter prompts an upturn in fortunes.

 

Isaac Christie-Davies

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Friday, August 17, 2018: Liverpool's Isaac Christie-Davies during the Under-23 FA Premier League 2 Division 1 match between Liverpool FC and Tottenham Hotspur FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

A summer signing from Chelsea, Christie-Davies remained in Liverpool for the international break due to the Wales U21s having played their last game of the year in October.

The 21-year-old is a flexible midfielder adept in a variety of roles, and has taken up a more attacking brief under Critchley in the U23s of late.

This has seen him score twice in the last three games in Premier League 2, including in the 3-1 victory over Leicester City last time out, where he shone alongside Matty Virtue in the middle.

His pathway to the first team is a difficult one, due to the amount of midfielders ahead of him in the pecking order, but Klopp will be aware of what he can offer.

 

Luis Longstaff

NAPLES, ITALY - Wednesday, October 3, 2018: Liverpool's substitute Luis Longstaff during the UEFA Youth League Group C match between S.S.C. Napoli and Liverpool FC at Stadio Comunale di Frattamaggiore. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Perhaps the most impressive among the six youngsters to train under Klopp this week, Longstaff has been in fine form for the Liverpool U18s this season.

A regular in Barry Lewtas’ three-man attacking midfield, the brilliantly named 17-year-old has taken up his position on the flanks, featuring in all 11 games and starting in 10.

He has also come off the substitutes’ bench in three of the U19s’ four games in the UEFA Youth League, and scored his only goal of the campaign so far against former club Newcastle in September.

Longstaff is a dextrous, creative winger whose skill and dribbling ability are being paired with an increasingly impressive end product as he shines alongside Paul Glatzel and Bobby Duncan.

 

Glen McAuley

KIRKBY, ENGLAND - Friday, August 25, 2017: Liverpool's Glen McAuley during an Under-18 FA Premier League match between Liverpool and Newcastle United at the Kirkby Academy. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Like Christie-Davies, McAuley was left without international football this month due to the Republic of Ireland’s poor performances in the qualifiers for next summer’s U21 Euros.

This allowed him to line up with Sturridge as his opposite number, however, as he made a rare appearance at Melwood to bulk out Klopp’s attacking ranks.

Still only 18, McAuley has been a regular fixture for the Reds’ academy sides since his arrival from Dublin side St. Joseph’s in 2016, after turning down Man City, Man United and Chelsea.

He has found opportunities difficult to come by of late, but showed his finishing ability as he netted his first goal for the U23s in the 1-1 draw with Burnley earlier in November.

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