Jurgen Klopp has insisted “there’s always a spot for these young boys” after five academy players made an appearance at Preston, highlighting the journey of Elijah Dixon-Bonner.
Liverpool were made to work for their place in the League Cup quarter-finals by Preston, with two second-half goals enough to seal the win an otherwise disjointed outing.
But what the occasion did present was opportunities for the club’s rising stars, with Tyler Morton, Harvey Blair, Dixon-Bonner, Connor Bradley and Owen Beck all receiving minutes.
It was a debut of some description for three and for Dixon-Bonner his cameo was his first minutes under Klopp having previously come off the bench in the FA Cup win over Shrewsbury in 2020.
The 20-year-old arrived at Liverpool in 2015 from Arsenal and rose up the ranks but as Klopp acknowledged, he “was not really on the radar” of the first team until he took his chance.
And that came in the previous international break when he linked up with members of Klopp’s squad that remained at Kirkby, with his efforts duly rewarded at Deepdale.
“Elijah, for example, did exactly that. In the last international break, he was incredible. He’s been long in the club already but was not really on the radar – and now all of a sudden he is there,” Klopp said of youngsters having a chance in the next break.
“He deserved these three or four minutes tonight. For a young boy, it’s a massive thing to play your first game for the first team and I’m really happy for him that we could give him the opportunity.
“So, there’s always a spot for these young boys.”
It hasn’t gone unnoticed by 18-year-old Morton, who said: “The manager gives us opportunities [and] he is one of the best managers in the world, especially for giving opportunities.”
It’s a credit to Klopp and his management style that he creates an environment that allows for a safe passage into his team and it’s paid dividends, with chances always there for players should they wish to take it.
“Owen Beck obviously impressed a lot in the pre-season, like Conor did. It’s good to have them,” Klopp added on recent opportunities.
“The problem is in the international break some of them are as well on tour with the national teams, so then they cannot train with us. But the others can and that’s good.”