SOUVENIR PROGRAMME

Ben Doak squad absence explained as Liverpool winger provides update

After a regular run in the squad and three consecutive appearances, Ben Doak has not been involved for Liverpool over the past three weeks.

The 17-year-old has not featured at academy level since the under-21s’ 1-0 defeat to Crystal Palace on January 22, either.

It comes after an eye-catching spell that saw him involved in eight out of nine first-team games from the Carabao Cup clash with Derby to the FA Cup replay against Wolves.

During that time, Doak came off the bench on five occasions, including a Premier League debut in the 3-0 loss away to Brighton.

But while the likes of Stefan Bajcetic and Bobby Clark have been taking part in senior training over the past three weeks, the young Scot has largely been absent.

That comes due to a minor injury that has also ruled Doak out of the last two games for the U21s and the under-18s’ FA Youth Cup tie against Ipswich.

In a post on Instagram on Monday, however, the youngster revealed he will be “back soon,” which could be timely as the under-19s prepare for the restart of the UEFA Youth League.

Doak was not named in Liverpool’s revised squad for the Champions League knockout stages as he would have been required to take up a senior spot.

That is due to the teenager having not yet been with the club for an uninterrupted two years, after which he would qualify as an U21 player on List B.

Bajcetic recently passed the two-year mark which allowed him to be deregistered from the senior squad and instead placed on List B, freeing up space for Naby Keita.

Doak will instead be part of Barry Lewtas and Marc Bridge-Wilkinson’s U19s group, with the draw for the last 16 of the UEFA Youth League to be held on February 13.

NAPLES, ITALY - Wednesday, September 7, 2022: Liverpool's Ben Doak (#7) celebrates after scoring the opening goal during the UEFA Youth League Group A Matchday 1 game between SSC Napoli Under-19's and Liverpool FC Under-19's at Giuseppe Piccolo. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

That comes after the conclusion of eight playoff ties, which are taking place on Tuesday and Wednesday this week.

Liverpool advanced to the last 16 as winners of Group A, and will therefore be seeded for the first knockout round, avoiding Man City, Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Paris Saint-Germain, AC Milan and Sporting CP.

They cannot face Ajax in the next stage, either, leaving any of 15 playoff teams as potential opponents in the last 16 as it stands.

Those include academy sides from Inter Milan, Dortmund, Porto and Juventus, with there also the chance of a home nations tie against Hibernian, who face Dortmund in their playoff.

Doak scored four goals in six games in the group stage, with only nine players finding the back of the net more often – including Liverpool’s Oakley Cannonier.