Liverpool youngster Jake Cain is finding his feet with his first taste of senior football this season at Newport County, and is now embracing the “horrible” side of his game.
Cain spent much of the summer as part of Jurgen Klopp‘s squad for pre-season, featuring against Wacker Innsbruck, Mainz and Athletic Club, before heading out on loan.
It gave the young midfielder, who was involved on 11 matchdays last term, with an opportunity to develop as a regular at senior level, in a challenging environment in League Two.
There has been a change in manager, with James Rowberry taking over from the long-serving Michael Flynn in October, but Cain’s fortunes have only improved under the new boss.
He has started in eight of a possible 16 games since Rowberry was appointed, featuring in all but three, and is currently on a run of five consecutive starts.
That, Rowberry has told the South Wales Argus, comes down to “earning the right to play” by committing to the “horrible side of the game.”
“There is a natural ability to Jake with his technical ability, his tactical ability and understanding of the game,” the manager said.
“What he has started to do is add the horrible side of the game – the cliche of earning the right to play.
“We have shown as a team that Newport County attitude; I referenced the Great Escape after Leyton Orient because there is a core to this club that understands what it means to be successful.
“To get that you have to do the simple things – win your headers, tackles, races and battles all over the pitch. Do that and then we can play the way that we want.”
This change is certainly evident, with Cain making 14 tackles in his last five starts, or 2.8 every game, which is significantly higher than his season’s average of 1.6 per outing.
The 20-year-old has also doubled his average in terms of interceptions (up to 0.8 per game) and headers won (0.6 per game), while he assisted the winner against Scunthorpe and was his side’s best passer (completing 87 percent) last time out against Barrow.
Cain appears to be growing into a more well-rounded player at Newport, and that is exactly why Liverpool sent him out on loan – to bridge the gap between under-23s and senior level.
He is likely to return to Merseyside and be assessed by Klopp and his staff in pre-season, though a permanent move away cannot be ruled out after this taste of regular first-team football.