Although Liverpool’s win at Preston will not find itself classified as a classic, to three young Reds it was a day they will never forget as their dreams came true.
Harvey Blair lined up in the forward line and was joined by fellow academy member Tyler Morton, who impressively patrolled the midfield in his maiden start for the Reds.
The two 18-year-old’s realised their dreams and were later joined by Elijah Dixon-Bonner off the bench, with the 20-year-old receiving another taste of senior action.
Dixon-Bonner was a late substitute in the FA Cup side that subjected Shrewsbury to a 1-0 defeat at Anfield in 2020 and as such Wednesday night was his first experience with Klopp at the helm, a game he classified as his Liverpool debut.
“I like that we could give the boys the opportunities, even when it was only a few minutes,” Klopp said of his youngsters after the 2-0 win.
“It’s only the start for them. It’s not the last game, it’s the first game for some. Now they can build on that.”
The future is bright but they and the club will be taking it one step at a time and that means relishing in every success and celebrating their debuts tops that list.
For Blair, who featured for 55 minutes and has been with Liverpool for seven years, it was an “unbelievable experience” and “a dream come true”:
The joy was equally felt by Morton in his first start “for the club I love” following his debut from the bench in the third round at Norwich.
His latest performance earned Klopp’s praise as he nodded to his “outstanding football brain” with his next step now to go “directly to the gym” to have the physique to withstand the rigours of senior football.
And for Dixon-Bonner, it was an “extremely proud” moment as he celebrated what he felt was his debut for “this amazing club” with an appearance from the bench.
Klopp commended the 20-year-old for ensuring he caught the eye during the last international break having long flown under the radar, meaning “he deserved these three or four minutes.”
The trio saw their posts met with messages of congratulations and support from fellow academy prospects Kaide Gordon, Harvey Davies, Bobby Clark, Oakley Cannonier, James Balagizi in addition to the first team’s Nat Phillips, Harvey Elliott and Neco Williams.
That type of atmosphere is key in the push for future success and Blair, Morton and Dixon-Bonner as well as Owen Beck and Conor Bradley once again proved the pathway to the top is there.
And Morton surmised the situation under the manager as, “He praises us a lot, he wants the best out of us and you can see he is the best manager in the world in the way he puts out young teams and still gets results.”