Neco Williams has had a tough season so far with uneven form and few chances in the team, but the right-back has the right mentality to bounce back, if a recent interview is anything to go by.
The Wales international made waves last season when he broke through as an option to cover for Trent Alexander-Arnold in the cups.
Some stand-out performances saw him create a few goals, put in some thunderous challenges and be part of an exciting young batch of players to be handed their chance under Jurgen Klopp throughout 2019/20.
This term has been slower going, though he has still amassed 11 appearances in all competitions so far and netted a first goal at senior international level – not bad for a teenager.
A few less-than-impressive displays came in the league early on, though including an appearance against Brighton where he conceded a penalty and received some utterly repulsive messages on social media afterwards, leading the youngster to delete his accounts.
Williams doesn’t expect to escape criticism due to his age and understands entirely the demands of playing for a club like Liverpool, but as he rightly pointed out to the Independent in an interview, he shouldn’t have to suffer such deranged abuse either.
“I don’t think any 19-year-old should be getting stick like that,” he says.
“I haven’t got the experience, it’s always going to be tough coming into one of the best teams in the world, I’m young and I’m learning and, of course, I’ll make mistakes.
“As a footballer, there’s nothing worse than having a bad game but the main thing is to learn from it and not dwell on it. You look at the mistake you’ve made and make sure to put it right. You can’t sit and sulk about it.”
Thankfully, there are plenty of big personalities at the club who know how to help the youngsters through difficult times.
Neco named two of the older heads who helped him get through that tough time – and explained just how hard it can be to come in from the cold for a sudden run of games, something which is perhaps overlooked by some fans at times.
“I had some of the experienced lads around me like Virgil and Hendo. They told me even the best players in the world get bad comments. They aren’t going to affect me. If they did, it’s only made me stronger and a better player.
“I learnt a lot from that run of games. It can be difficult if you’re not playing for a few weeks to jump straight in.
“The standard and the intensity of the Premier League and Champions League is difficult but the main thing is to be mentally prepared. I felt like I started to find my feet.
“My aim now is just to keep proving to the manager that I’m good enough and keep getting better. There’s nowhere better to do that than at Liverpool with the best players and the best manager in the world.”
Williams could well get his next outing at the weekend when the Reds play Man United in the FA Cup.
With his last appearance coming in that same competition against Aston Villa‘s youth side two weeks ago and Trent’s own form less-than-stellar of late, it would be a good time for the Welshman to again stake a claim and serve a reminder of the talent that supporters were so excited about this time last year.