Jurgen Klopp was full of praise for his trio of debutants after Kaide Gordon, Conor Bradley and Tyler Morton all shone on their Liverpool bows against Norwich.
It was clear ahead of kickoff at Carrow Road that Klopp would make a number of changes from the weekend’s 3-0 victory over Crystal Palace – and ultimately, he made nine.
Two of those to come in were right-back Bradley, 18, and winger Gordon, 16, while midfielder Morton, also 18, replaced the stricken Naby Keita at half-time.
Liverpool earned a 3-0 win in East Anglia, with Takumi Minamino scoring twice and Divock Origi heading his 10th goal in the League Cup, and after the game, Klopp spoke on his new faces.
“The kids did exceptionally well, I have to say,” he told reporters in his post-match press conference.
“All three physically really strong – that’s maybe the biggest surprise, that they could go 94, 95 minutes. I’m really happy for them, it was a big moment for these boys.”
The focus ahead of kickoff was on a maiden outing for Gordon, who became the club’s fifth-youngest player ever in an appearance that saw Liverpool pay a further £100,000 towards the eventual £3.4 million package agreed to sign him in February.
Klopp hailed the teenager as a “big talent” in his press conference, insisting that he and his coaches would “treat him carefully” with there still “a lot of things to improve.”
“But there’s already a lot of things that are already there,” he stressed.
In his interview with Sky Sports, the manager added on Gordon: “He’s ready for these moments, he’s just ready!”
Klopp on Kaide Gordon post-match:
"The first thing Kaide said to me – when I wanted to say congratulations – was thank you! I said, nothing to thank for, you deserved it!" pic.twitter.com/Ui90phCLxR
— This Is Anfield (@thisisanfield) September 21, 2021
“He started a little bit too fixed on the wing, but when we then realised, we allowed him to go more inside and all these kind of things,” he told LFCTV.
“All of a sudden he was much more in the game, which was absolutely good and important for us.”
Gordon may have got his name among Liverpool’s youngest-ever debutants, but Bradley also made history of his own as the first Northern Irish player to make a competitive appearance for the club in 67 years.
The right-back, already a full senior international, is the first since Sammy Smyth in 1954 to represent the Reds, and in his press conference Klopp joked: “Somebody should have told me that before, then I probably would have brought him earlier!”
“The decision that they are good enough is my decision,” he explained to LFCTV.
“There is no question any more, that’s the only reason why they play.
“But then the only thing they have to be, the only thing I want to see from them, is that they are brave. All the rest is a waste of time, you have to be brave.
“Make a mistake, especially for Conor when it’s in the other box, dribble – he’s a cheeky boy, so go in there, don’t only play safe passes or whatever – and he did really well.
“It was an incredibly intense game for him, defending-wise. I was really surprised that he could stay on.”
Morton, meanwhile, was part of the pre-season squad but is not as familiar with the rest of the first team as Gordon and Bradley.
That was not apparent as he entered the game at half-time and changed the dynamic in midfield, taking over from Curtis Jones as No. 6, with Klopp noting that he “gave us the opportunity to connect again.”
“Tyler obviously came on and played the position really naturally good, to be honest,” he said in his debrief with LFCTV.
“Simple passes but good passes, very confident, I like that. They all did well.”
He told Sky Sports: “Tyler, really, he gave us the opportunity to connect again, because he just played simple, passed the ball in the right spaces, defended the right spaces.
“So that was a really good game from all these three boys. They just played because they are good enough, that was the only reason.”