Jake Cain brought his tally to four goals in three games as the Liverpool under-18s sealed a dramatic 4-3 win over Celtic in a behind-closed-doors friendly.
The young Reds headed to Glasgow this week to continue their pre-season preparations as Barry Lewtas oversees a much-changed squad from his maiden campaign.
Rhys Williams, Tom Clayton, Elijah Dixon-Bonner, Jack Bearne, Abdi Sharif, Fidel O’Rourke and Luis Longstaff are all with the under-23s this summer, and Bobby Duncan, Yasser Larouci, Vitezslav Jaros and Paul Glatzel with the first team.
This has left Lewtas to call upon a host of new faces from the under-16s ranks, with Layton Stewart, James Norris, Tyler Morton, Dominic Corness and Oakley Cannonier among those.
But the standout for Liverpool’s U18s so far has been Jake Cain, the 17-year-old midfielder whose goals and creative prowess proved crucial last season.
On Saturday in Scotland, Cain scored his fourth goal of pre-season so far, following on from a pair of free-kicks in the 4-0 win over Burton Albion and another strike in the 5-0 thrashing of Bury.
Further goals from Norris, Stewart and Leighton Clarkson—Cain’s midfield partner—helped the young Reds to a 4-1 lead at half-time, but they were forced to hold on for a 4-3 victory in the second half.
It was a win Lewtas described as “a real good workout” and this is exactly what the manager will be hoping for as he builds for a strong 2019/20.
Liverpool finished second in the U18 Premier League under Lewtas’ guidance last season, losing out on the title to Derby due to goal difference, while they lifted the FA Youth Cup with a win over Man City in the final.
Losing the likes of Jaros, Williams, Larouci, Longstaff, Glatzel and Duncan will be a big blow, but this is the challenge the ex-Wigan and Bolton coach is tasked with.
Replacing them—with Stewart and, if they return, Bearne and O’Rourke, the next big hopes up front after Glatzel and Duncan’s 59-goal season last time out—will be key.
But retaining the midfield core of Cain and Clarkson can aid him significantly, and with the young duo primed to take even more responsibility this season, they can hope to catch Jurgen Klopp‘s eye in the future.
With Cain equalling Rhian Brewster‘s goal tally so far this summer, those numbers will certainly boost his chances of doing so.