LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, September 17, 2022: Liverpool's Trent Kone-Doherty celebrates after scoring the second goal during the Under-18 Premier League North match between Liverpool FC Under-18's and Manchester City FC Under-18's at the Liverpool Academy. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Trent Kone-Doherty scores again as 10 familiar faces absent for Liverpool U21s

Impressive winger Trent Kone-Doherty marked his first league start for Liverpool under-21s with a goal, in a game most notable for its absentees.

Derby U21s 1-1 Liverpool U21s

PL 2, Impact Arena
August 18, 2023

Goals: Brown 80′; Kone-Doherty 56′

Following a stunning strike for the under-18s in their season opener, Kone-Doherty stepped up to the U21s as Ben Doak remains part of the first team.

The young Irishman made his full debut in Premier League 2 as the young Reds took on Derby on Friday night, and opened the scoring in Alfreton.

It came on the back of a 4-0 thrashing of Everton that kicked the campaign off, with the follow-up seeing a host of familiar faces miss out.

PRESTON, ENGLAND - Monday, August 7, 2023: Liverpool's substitute Bobby Clark beofre during a pre-season friendly match between Liverpool FC and SV Darmstadt 98 at Deepdale. Liverpool won 3-1. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Notable absentees for U21s

Vitezslav Jaros, goalkeeper
Marcelo Pitaluga, goalkeeper
Jarell Quansah, centre-back
Billy Koumetio, centre-back
Isaac Mabaya, right-back
James McConnell, midfielder
Bobby Clark, midfielder
Matteo Ritaccio, midfielder
Kaide Gordon, winger
Paul Glatzel, striker

Among those was Bobby Clark, who shone with a goal and two assists in the mini-derby, as well as Vitezslav Jaros, Jarell Quansah and James McConnell who also featured.

Their absence can likely be explained by the fact it was an away trip on the eve of the senior side’s clash with Bournemouth.

Jurgen Klopp will almost certainly have required those players in first-team training in order to fine-tune plans in 11-a-side situations.

Marcelo Pitaluga was also absent for the U21s, possibly for the same reason.

However, there remains a chance some of those players are attracting interest in the transfer market, with a number of clubs contacting Liverpool for loan deals.

SAALFELDEN, AUSTRIA - Tuesday, July 26, 2022: Liverpool's Kaide Gordon arrives before a training session at during the club's pre-season training camp in Austria. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Billy Koumetio and Matteo Ritaccio were left out of the squad, for example, with temporary or even permanent deals for the pair considered the next step.

Another player missing was Isaac Mabaya, who made his return from a long-term injury off the bench against Everton, and like Paul Glatzel and Kaide Gordon, it is likely his fitness is simply being managed.

With those 11 youngsters not available, Barry Lewtas called upon a number of even younger talents, not least Kone-Doherty, who is 17.

Kieran Morrison, 16, and Josh Davidson, 17, both made their debuts off the bench before joining the U18s for their trip to Leeds the following day.

Centre-back Carter Pinnington, also 16, was an unused substitute.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Tuesday, November 1, 2022: Liverpool's Trent Kone-Doherty celebrates scoring the fifth goal with team-mates Melkamu Frauendorf during the UEFA Youth League Group A Matchday 6 game between Liverpool FC Under-19's and SSC Napoli Under-19's at the Liverpool Academy. (Pic by Jessica Hornby/Propaganda)

Kone-Doherty’s strike was eventually cancelled out by Dajaune Brown as the two sides played out a 1-1 draw, with Lewtas taking the positives after the game.

“We had a young team out,” he told the club’s official website.

“Luca Stephenson played at centre-half and did ever so well, Tom Hill made his first start for a while, played for an hour as a No. 6 and did very well. It’s just great to have him back.

“Trent scored a nice goal for us and it was nice to see him get his first goal in Premier League 2.”

Liverpool U21s: Mrozek; Miles, Stephenson, Chambers, Scanlon (Pilling 61′); Hill, Frauendorf (Davidson 78′), Norris; Kone-Doherty (Morrison 70′), Musialowski, Cannonier

Subs not used: Kelly, Pinnington

Next match: Southampton (A) – PL2 – Friday, August 25, 7pm (BST)