4 in the first team – What happened to Liverpool’s FA Youth Cup winners of 2019

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Two years ago, Liverpool won the FA Youth Cup for the first time in 12 years, with eight of those to play in the final going on to experience first-team life.

The Reds have won the FA Youth Cup four times in their illustrious history, starting in 1996, when Jamie Carragher and Michael Owen featured in a 4-1 victory over West Ham.

Among the opposition that day were Rio Ferdinand and Frank Lampard, with the competition a proven route to the top which has endured despite a more difficult pathway from academy to first team in the modern era.

Five of the starters from Liverpool’s penalty-shootout victory over Man City in 2019 have been part of Jurgen Klopp‘s matchday squad this season, while three others have had senior experience over their time with the club.

So what has happened to the young Reds side to triumph over City?


Vitezslav Jaros

BIRKENHEAD, ENGLAND - Tuesday, September 29, 2020: Liverpool's goalkeeper Vitezslav Jaros during the EFL Trophy Northern Group D match between Tranmere Rovers FC and Liverpool FC Under-21's at Prenton Park. Tranmere Rovers won 3-2. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Jaros was between the sticks for the shootout, which ended 5-3 to Liverpool, and has since gone on to train on a regular basis with the first team.

He is currently on loan at St Patrick’s Athletic in the League of Ireland Premier Division, but earlier this season he was on the bench three times in the Champions League.


Neco Williams

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Tuesday, December 1, 2020: Liverpool's Neco Williams during the UEFA Champions League Group D match between Liverpool FC and AFC Ajax at Anfield. Liverpool won 1-0 to win the group and progress to the Round of 16. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The young right-back stepped up to convert the first penalty, and the following season earned a surprise callup to the first-team frame at the expense of Ki-Jana Hoever.

Williams is now a full-time member of Klopp’s squad, with 24 appearances for Liverpool so far.


Rhys Williams

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, March 7, 2021: Liverpool's Rhys Williams during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Fulham FC at Anfield. Fulham won 1-0 extending Liverpool's run to six consecutive home defeats. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The dominant, looming presence in Barry Lewtas’ back line, Williams followed up his FA Youth Cup success with a formative loan with Kidderminster Harriers last season.

Injuries handed him an opportunity at senior level this term, and he has been in the squad on 34 occasions, starting nine games.


Morgan Boyes

GRÖDIG, AUSTRIA - Tuesday, December 10, 2019: Liverpool's substitute Morgan Boyes takes a throw-in during the final UEFA Youth League Group E match between FC Salzburg and Liverpool FC at the Untersberg-Arena. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Williams’ centre-back partner spent the first half of this season on loan at Fleetwood Town, before returning as staple for the under-23s.

Boyes started and scored an own goal in the League Cup defeat to Aston Villa in 2019.


Yasser Larouci

LEIGH, ENGLAND - Friday, September 25, 2020: Liverpool's Yasser Larouci during the Premier League 2 Division 1 match between Manchester United FC Under-23's and Liverpool FC Under-23's at the Leigh Sports Village. Liverpool won 5-3. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Considered by many as Man of the Match in the final, Larouci was then brought into the first-team fold and made five appearances in pre-season, before playing against Everton and Shrewsbury in the FA Cup.

Not willing to sign a new deal with the Reds, however, the Algerian has been shuffled out of frame and will leave on the expiry of his contract this summer.


Leighton Clarkson

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, November 25, 2020: Liverpool's substitute Leighton Clarkson during the UEFA Champions League Group D match between Liverpool FC and Atalanta BC at Anfield. Atalanta won 2-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Long seen as one of the most talented youngsters in the academy setup, Clarkson played 78 minutes in midfield in the final, and is now a regular in senior training at Kirkby.

The 19-year-old even started in December’s 1-1 draw with Midtjylland in the Champions League, and has been in the squad for six other games.


Jake Cain

KINGSTON-UPON-THAMES, ENGLAND - Friday, February 19, 2021: Liverpool's Jake Cain during the Premier League 2 Division 1 match between Chelsea FC Under-23's and Liverpool FC Under-23's at the Kingsmeadow Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Like his close friend Clarkson, Cain has been promoted to the first team this season while regularly turning out for the U23s.

The goalscoring midfielder is yet to feature under Klopp but has been on the bench 11 times in 2020/21.


Elijah Dixon-Bonner

BIRKENHEAD, ENGLAND - Tuesday, September 29, 2020: Liverpool's Elijah Dixon-Bonner during the EFL Trophy Northern Group D match between Tranmere Rovers FC and Liverpool FC Under-21's at Prenton Park. Tranmere Rovers won 3-2. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

It has been a difficult time for Dixon-Bonner lifting the FA Youth Cup, with injuries and competition for places limiting his appearances even at U23 level.


Abdi Sharif

BIRKENHEAD, ENGLAND - Tuesday, September 29, 2020: Liverpool's Abdulrahman Sharif during the EFL Trophy Northern Group D match between Tranmere Rovers FC and Liverpool FC Under-21's at Prenton Park. Tranmere Rovers won 3-2. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Similar to Dixon-Bonner, Sharif has struggled to kick on since the final, with an ACL injury suffered in 2019 followed up by a series of smaller problems this term.


Bobby Duncan

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Thursday, April 25, 2019: Liverpool's captain Paul Glatzel (L) and strike partner Bobby Duncan celebrate with the trophy after the FA Youth Cup Final match between Manchester City FC and Liverpool FC at the Academy Stadium. Liverpool won 5-4 on penalties after a 1-1 extra-time draw. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Duncan scored 30 goals in 43 academy games in 2019/20, including a stunner equaliser against his former club City in the final.

He looked set for superstardom, but after five appearances and a goal for the senior side in pre-season, an ill-advised push to move on led him to Fiorentina, where he floundered before a move to Derby in September.

The 19-year-old has played once for the Rams’ first team so far, coming in the 2-0 loss to non-league Chorley in the FA Cup third round.


Paul Glatzel

KIRKBY, ENGLAND - Saturday, February 27, 2021: Liverpool's substitute Paul Glatzel during the Premier League 2 Division 1 match between Liverpool FC Under-23's and Arsenal FC Under-23's at the Liverpool Academy. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Captain and scorer of the winning penalty, Glatzel joined Duncan with the first team for pre-season the following summer but suffered a debilitation ACL injury in his first outing.

Though he was given assurances he would remain part of Klopp’s thinking, the 20-year-old has struggled for fitness since and has only played a handful of times for the U23s this season.


Substitutes

KIRKBY, ENGLAND - Sunday, September 13, 2020: Liverpool's Luis Longstaff celebrates scoring the second goal, only for it to be disallowed, during the Premier League 2 Division 1 match between Liverpool FC Under-23's and Everton FC Under-23's at the Liverpool Academy. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Luis Longstaff and Jack Bearne replaced Clarkson and Cain in the latter stages of the final, with Bearne scoring the penultimate penalty in the shootout.

Neither have established themselves in the first team, but Longstaff has trained infrequently and Bearne – currently out with a long-term ankle injury – came off the bench against Villa in the League Cup.

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