HERNING, DENMARK - Wednesday, December 9, 2020: Liverpool's Leighton Clarkson during the UEFA Champions League Group D match between FC Midtjylland and Liverpool FC at the Herning Arena. (Pic by Lars Møller/Propaganda)

“Proud night” for captain Trent as Reds youth get “brilliant European experience”

Liverpool’s result against Midtjylland might not be one which lives long in the memory, but it was a big night for quite a few of the Reds on show.

A draw completed the group stage for the Reds and ensured they remained unbeaten throughout, although we were already assured of top spot and a last-16 place beforehand.

Mo Salah‘s early goal was cancelled out by a second-half penalty, while Takumi Minamino was denied a late winner by a dodgy VAR decision on an apparent handball by Sadio Mane.

But most of the memories will be positive ones regardless, with youngsters taking to the field and one of our own taking the armband for the first time.

Trent Alexander-Arnold captained the Reds on his 147th game for the club, wearing the armband for an hour or so until Jordan Henderson‘s introduction.

For a local lad who has come right through the system and made his way to becoming a star player and title-winner, this was another big occasion he and his family will cherish.

“It was a really proud night for me on a personal note. I think I’ll look back on tonight with fond memories as being captain for the first time,” he told liverpoolfc.com.

“Obviously it’s always been a dream, it’s always special to play on Champions League nights. To lead the team out was incredibly proud, it was something that was different, new to me. It was special, it felt special out there.

“I only told a few people, to be fair. I kept it quite close to my chest and didn’t want to make it bigger than what it was. I tried to focus on the game as much as possible but I think the people that needed to know knew. It was a proud moment for the family.”

On the game itself, Jurgen Klopp used the opportunity to put a few inexperienced players in and give them a taste of the big stage.

The likes of Caoimhin Kelleher and Rhys Williams have more than played their part in the Champions League campaign this side of Christmas, while Leighton Clarkson and Billy Koumetio also saw involvement in Denmark.

HERNING, DENMARK - Wednesday, December 9, 2020: Liverpool's Rhys Williams tackles FC Midtjylland's Sory Kaba (R) during the UEFA Champions League Group D match between FC Midtjylland and Liverpool FC at the Herning Arena. (Pic by Lars Møller/Propaganda)

Trent says it’s great for them to get the chance to shine in front of more people as the squad already know what they’re capable of – and he reserved particular praise for midfielder Clarkson making his European debut.

“We see it every day in training [from] the lads that are there, we have so many young players now. It’s refreshing to see.

“I think what they need to do is just focus on themselves, keep working, keep learning from the players that they’re looking up to and who’s playing in their position.

“I think the way that they performed was really well – I think Leighton, especially, playing his first Champions League game. He did really well out there. Billy out there when he came on did a job. So it was a good performance from the young lads and I think they’ll be proud and I’m sure all their families will be proud of them as well.”

Those thoughts were echoed by Henderson himself, who knows precisely how good the experience will do the youngsters in the long term.

Stand-in stopper Kelleher did himself proud again, making several authoritative claims and saves despite conceding a penalty.

And for the other youngsters involved there was a sense of delight tinged with professionalism as they balanced senior Champions League action with not winning three points!

Now it’s back to focusing on domestic matters and the Reds are likely to see more regular, more senior line-ups in the coming weeks.

There are five league matches to play between now and the end of 2020 and there is only one ambition: a full 15 points.