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Liverpool hand 20-year-old midfielder surprise place in Champions League squad

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Liverpool arrived in Spain on Monday evening ahead of their Champions League clash with Atletico Madrid, with young midfielder Elijah Dixon-Bonner among those to travel.

The Reds take on Atletico for the seventh time in their history tonight, and the third time during Jurgen Klopp’s reign.

Last time out, the Spanish side emerged 4-2 victors on aggregate in the last 16 of the competition, winning 3-2 at Anfield before lockdown.

Liverpool are currently top of Group B after beating AC Milan and Porto, and could take a big step towards the knockout stages with a win tonight.

Klopp is without Thiago, Curtis Jones and Harvey Elliott for the clash, though, leaving his midfield options light.

Fabinho is back available, and could come straight into the starting lineup alongside any of Jordan Henderson, Naby Keita, James Milner and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

Another who should make the bench is 20-year-old academy midfielder Dixon-Bonner, who was surprisingly included in the travelling squad.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Monday, October 18, 2021: Liverpool's Elijah Dixon-Bonner during a training session at the AXA Training Centre ahead of the UEFA Champions League Group B Matchday 3 game between Club Atlético de Madrid and Liverpool FC. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Dixon-Bonner was part of training at Kirkby on Monday lunchtime, but was anticipated to simply be padding out the numbers due to Fabinho already being in Spain.

But the youngster was among the group to arrive at the team hotel in Madrid, suggesting he will be involved in the squad.

Dixon-Bonner was not named in the initial Champions League squad, but has been registered on List B as of Monday.

The versatile, goalscoring midfielder spent the summer on trial with Portsmouth, but the League One club opted out of a move.

He subsequently returned to the Liverpool under-23s, and has also filled in during first-team training on occasion.

ROCHDALE, ENGLAND - Tuesday, August 31, 2021: Liverpool's Elijah Dixon-Bonner during the English Football League Trophy match between Rochdale AFC and Liverpool FC Under-21's at Spotland Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Tonight could be his most significant involvement under Klopp to date, mirroring the likes of Jake Cain and Harvey Davies last term.

There still remain doubts over the long-term role of a player who joined from Arsenal in 2015, but this is certainly an opportunity to impress.

Davies received a surprise call-up of his own for the clashes with RB Leipzig and Real Madrid last season, and has since been fast-tracked through the youth ranks and regularly trains with the senior goalkeepers.

Dixon-Bonner would face a tougher task of breaking through, but regardless his part in Madrid could prove to be a vital experience.

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