LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Friday, August 17, 2018: Liverpool's Bobby Adekanye celebrates scoring the first goal 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)

At least 10 players could leave Liverpool as part of “vast changes” at academy level

Liverpool’s U23s are set to undergo a major upheaval in the wake of finishing fourth in Premier League 2, as long-term staples leave and new faces emerge.

Progress at academy level is not ultimately defined by league placing, but it is undeniable that the young Reds have endured a hit-and-miss campaign under Neil Critchley.

While the U18s are still in contention for the title, and have already lifted the FA Youth Cup, the U23s could finish 10 points behind champions Everton, who still have their final game to play.

Liverpool won nine, drew seven and lost six in their 22 games in Premier League 2 this season, culminating in a drab 2-1 defeat to Blackburn at Anfield on Sunday.

That afternoon saw Rhian Brewster lead the line and Curtis Jones, Rafa Camacho, Ben Woodburn and Adam Lewis among those to start, along with a host of other familiar faces.

Speaking after the game, decided by goals from Joseph Rankin-Costello and Daniel Butterworth despite George Johnston’s consolation, Critchley conceded next season’s squad will be “vastly changed.”

“I think a few of those players will be leaving the club in the next few weeks,” he told the Liverpool Echo.

“The younger ones from the U18s will be moving up. I would have thought it would be a vastly changed group next season.

“It will be a young group and one we’re looking forward to working with.”

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Tuesday, September 18, 2018: Liverpool's Rafael Camacho celebrates scoring the second goal with team-mate Bobby Adekanye (left) during the UEFA Youth League Group C match between Liverpool FC and Paris Saint-Germain at Langtree Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The Echo speculate that Connor Randall and Juanma will be among those to leave, due to their contracts expiring, but in reality it could be at least 10.

Bobby Adekanye will certainly depart as the saga over his next move continues, as should captain Corey Whelan, who signed a new contract with the club in 2017, as those terms are expected to expire in July.

Shamal George, Conor Masterson and Tony Gallacher could also have question marks over their futures, while loanees Pedro Chirivella, Ovie Ejaria and Sheyi Ojo are unlikely to return on a long-term basis.

Interest in Camacho has mounted in recent weeks with Liverpool reportedly looking for around £10 million for the 18-year-old, as Sporting CP, Wolves, Benfica and RB Leipzig all weigh up moves.

There may even be the possibility Woodburn departs on a permanent deal, as there appears to be no route for the Wales international into the first team.

BURY, ENGLAND - Wednesday, March 6, 2019: Liverpool's Jake Cain (R) celebrates scoring the second goal with team-mates Bobby Duncan (L) and captain Paul Glatzel (C) during the FA Youth Cup Quarter-Final match between Bury FC and Liverpool FC at Gigg Lane. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Critchley’s squad next season could comprise many of those to thrive with the U18s, including centre-back Rhys Williams, full-backs Neco Williams and Yasser Larouci and midfielders Leighton Clarkson, Jake Cain and Abdi Sharif.

The prolific strike pairing of Paul Glatzel and Bobby Duncan are likely to make the step up as regulars, while Luis Longstaff should continue his progression and goalkeeper Vitezslav Jaros could be given a big show of faith.

There may be first-team spots for Lewis, Brewster and Harry Wilson, while Jones, Nat Phillips and Ki-Jana Hoever have all been in consideration by Klopp over the past year.

The U18s have two more games left until the end of the season, against Man City on Tuesday and then Middlesbrough on Saturday, with hopes rising over more silverware.