Harvey Elliott has explained how he has employed a specialist sprint coach to help improve his speed in development, as he looks to challenge Mo Salah and Sadio Mane.
The 18-year-old has come back from his loan spell at Blackburn to immediately provide competition to the Liverpool first team, starting and shining against Burnley.
His performance at Anfield was a landmark, as Elliott showed he is capable of keeping up in the Premier League – and crucially, against one of the league’s most physical, cynical sides.
So far, Jurgen Klopp has deployed the teenager in midfield, but it is anticipated that he will fill in on the right flank at times, which will require him to propel Liverpool’s fast-paced attack.
In an interview with BT Sport, Elliott explained how he worked with a sprint coach throughout his youth and continues to work on his speed to gain “those few extra yards.”
“Even to this day I’m not the quickest, as I want to be and I can be,” he admitted.
“Throughout the years I was obviously not the biggest, as you can see from today’s game, but I think I just tried to – and my dad especially – work on things that would help me get further in my career.
“Still to this day, I’m practising sprint training, trying to make myself better and just to try give myself those few extra yards that could potentially help me in the game.”
Having arrived as a 16-year-old, Elliott is now established as a fully-fledged senior player, which puts him up against the likes of Salah and Mane in the running.
Deploying the No. 67 in midfield is a way of fitting him into the side to work with both Salah and Trent Alexander-Arnold on the right, but Elliott believes his speed training will help him fight for a spot in attack if required.
“You’ve always got to improve. That’s something I need to improve on, my speed,” he continued.
“If you look at the likes of Mo Salah and Sadio there. The first couple of training sessions when I first arrived, it was a bit like ‘woah, I’m training with these’.
“Just seeing them in person, going from seeing them and watching them live on TV, to actually being next to them, you don’t realise how big they are, what sort of presence they bring.
“Now, I just look at it as they’re my competition, I can’t really look at them as world-class players even though they are.
“We’re all in it to fight for one position, that’s to be in the team.
“Training with them and learning off them is one thing, but I think it’s another to sort of challenge them to get in the team.”
It is a marker of Elliott’s commitment and initiative that he works with specialists in order to further himself as a professional, and this seems a pivotal season for the youngster.
He could have enjoyed a six-week break between his loan spell at Blackburn and the return for pre-season with Liverpool, but he cut this short by four weeks to report back to Kirkby early.
Elliott also worked tirelessly during the off-season to return 2kg lighter, which can, in turn, give him another edge in terms of speed – something he will need in midfield as much as on the wing.
Klopp is a manager who recognises hard work off the pitch, and it is clearly paying off for Elliott.