LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, December 31, 2016: A red corner flag at Anfield ahead of the FA Premier League match between Liverpool and Manchester City at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Liverpool’s newest academy hope makes first outing as U18s suffer friendly defeat

Liverpool academy defender Billy Koumetio played his first game for the club on Friday as a youthful U18s side fell to a 2-0 post-season defeat to Club Brugge.

The young Reds ended their competitive campaign with a 1-0 win over Middlesbrough that saw them finish second in the U18 Premier League, level on points with champions Derby.

Though unable to add to silverware picked up in the FA Youth Cup and the Mercedes-Benz Junior Cup, it was a fine end to the season for Barry Lewtas‘ free-scoring youngsters.

However, that was not the end of their schedule, with the manager explaining this week that they won’t depart for their summer break until June 3, in order to replicate the first team.

“We’ve said time and time again, we try and mirror as much as what we can do to the first team,” he said.

“So trying to keep the boys in for a longer period of time this year just mimics what has happened to the first team.”

ST HELENS, ENGLAND - Monday, January 21, 2019: Liverpool players line-up before the FA Youth Cup 4th Round match between Liverpool FC and Accrington Stanley FC at Langtree Park. L-R Bobby Duncan, Luis Longstaff, Leighton Clarkson, Elijah Dixon-Bonner, Yasser Larouci, Jack Walls, Abdulrahman Sharif, Remi Savage, Rhys Williams, goalkeeper Jaros Vitezslav, captain Paul Glatzel. (Pic by Paul Greenwood/Propaganda)

This began on Friday, as both the U18s and the U23s headed to Belgium for friendlies against their Club Brugge counterparts, with varied results.

Lewtas named a mixed side for their morning clash, with Jake Cain and Luis Longstaff the only starters who could have been considered first choice in 2018/19, as Ben Winterbottom and Patrik Raitanen made rare appearances.

Most notably, 16-year-old ex-Lyon defender Koumetio came in for his first recorded outing, joining Raitanen, Jack Walls and Remi Savage in defence.

Koumetio joined Liverpool from US Orleans for a nominal fee in January, and was named in the club’s revised squad for the UEFA Youth League in March.

The young Reds fell to a 2-0 defeat through goals from Jarno Vervaque and Robbe Gheerardyns, but it will have been a day to remember for the left-sided centre-back regardless.

Later in the afternoon, Neil Critchley‘s U23s won their friendly 1-0 through a late penalty from Rhian Brewster.

BARCELONA, SPAIN - Wednesday, May 1, 2019: Liverpool's substitute Rhian Brewster during the pre-match warm-up before the UEFA Champions League Semi-Final 1st Leg match between FC Barcelona and Liverpool FC at the Camp Nou. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Connor Randall, Juanma, Corey Whelan, Conor Masterson and Glen McAuley didn’t feature, as they will depart the club this summer on the expiry of their contracts.

Bobby Adekanye is also set to leave, and has been in Rome this week ahead of his impending move to Lazio, watching their 2-0 victory over Atalanta in the Coppa Italia final on Wednesday night.

The U18s and U23s are now set to climb Snowdon on May 24 in aid of the Stephen Darby Foundation, for which donations can be made here.