The January transfer window has ended and Liverpool’s new-year academy reshuffle should now settle. So how will both squads shape up in 2020?
The Reds saw a host of youngsters depart in the winter window, while others returned to Merseyside after loan spells in 2019.
Rhian Brewster (Swansea), Herbie Kane (Hull), Isaac Christie-Davies (Cercle Brugge) and Dan Atherton (Marine) all left on temporary deals, while Shamal George returned and Liam Millar was recalled.
Meanwhile, with Jurgen Klopp calling up a group of youngsters for regular first-team involvement, the knock-on effect has seen both the under-23s and under-18s squads change midway through the campaign.
So who can we expect to play for each side in the second half of 2019/20?
For the second time, Critchley was called upon to fill in for Klopp, and with the senior squad absent he broke the club’s record for their youngest-ever lineup on consecutive outings.
Many of those to feature against Aston Villa and Shrewsbury will remain with the U23s in 2020.
This should include Curtis Jones, Neco Williams, Harvey Elliott, Pedro Chirivella, Yasser Larouci, Ki-Jana Hoever and Sepp van den Berg, despite their senior experience, though their academy minutes may be restricted.
The return of Vitezslav Jaros should see him challenge Ben Winterbottom for the role of first-choice goalkeeper, while Morgan Boyes, Adam Lewis and Tony Gallacher can take regular roles in defence.
Elijah Dixon-Bonner, Leighton Clarkson and Jake Cain could make up the first-choice midfield when the likes of Chirivella and Jones are on first-team duty.
And the return of Millar and the signing of Joe Hardy occupies two starting spots in attack, with Elliott, Luis Longstaff and Jack Bearne available to slot in alongside them.
Both Abdi Sharif and Paul Glatzel are still recovering from long-term injuries, but could hope for minutes later in the season.
Likely Liverpool U23s squad
Goalkeepers: Jaros, Winterbottom, George, McKenzie-Lyle
Defenders: Van den Berg, Boyes, Hoever, Clayton, Williams, Larouci, Lewis, Gallacher
Midfielders: Jones, Chirivella, Dixon-Bonner, Clarkson, Cain, Varesanovic, Coyle, Sharif*
Forwards: Elliott, Hardy, Millar, Glatzel*, Longstaff, Bearne
* Sidelined with long-term injury.
With Clarkson, Cain and Bearne among those to step up to the U23s, Barry Lewtas has already drafted in some new faces, while injuries have seen others take a more focal role.
The likes of Oscar Kelly, Harvey Davies and Luke Hewitson have been involved in goal, while outfielders Abel Rodriques, Luca Stephenson, Isaac Mabaya, Luke Chambers and Max Woltman have also stepped up from the under-16s.
The core of Lewtas’ squad looks set to include goalkeeper Jakub Ojrzynski, centre-back Remi Savage, full-backs James Norris, Owen Beck and Conor Bradley, midfielders Tyler Morton and Tom Hill, and Layton Stewart and Fidel O’Rourke up front.
The versatile Niall Brookwell should re-emerge after injury, as could centre-back Billy Koumetio and midfielder Matteo Ritaccio on their return.
Morton, Bradley and Woltman are the newer faces to keep an eye on in 2020 in particular.
Likely Liverpool U18s squad
Goalkeepers: Ojrzynski, Kelly, Davies, Hewitson
Defenders: Savage, Koumetio*, Quansah, Norris, Beck, Walls, Bradley, Rodriques
Midfielders: Morton, Brookwell, Balagizi, Ritaccio*, Wilson, Corness, Stephenson, Mabaya, Chambers
Forwards: Stewart, O’Rourke, Hill, Woltman
* Sidelined with long-term injury.
The return of the UEFA Youth League could see Lewtas and Critchley’s under-19s take a different complexion, too, as Williams and Elliott are unlikely to be ever-presents like in 2019.
This could allow others to take to the fore, with Norris, Savage and Stewart among those who could feature more regularly in Europe.
It could also be the case on the domestic stage, with Critchley’s ever-changing squad requiring youngsters to move up the ranks for weekends, and Koumetio, Brookwell, O’Rourke and Hill may benefit there.
Regardless of the makeup of the academy squads, it should be considered one of the most productive campaigns for youth development at Kirkby in many years, and hopefully that will continue in 2020.