Liverpool youngster’s strange absence continues as midfielder earns award

Liverpool youngster James Balagizi has been involved in just three of a possible 11 league games on loan at Wigan, as his absence continues.

While Balagizi was among the most talented young players to depart Liverpool on loan in the summer, he has been unable to translate that into game time.

Joining Wigan on a season-long deal, the 20-year-old followed up a promising spell at Crawley last time out that was cruelly cut short by injury.

But joining a Latics side floundering at the bottom of League One, Balagizi has been unable to pick up the minutes he requires, left out of the matchday squad for the fifth time in Saturday’s 1-0 loss at Stevenage.

Balagizi had played 45 minutes in a 2-1 defeat to Burton Albion four days previous, but that was only his fourth outing against senior opposition this season.

In total, the versatile midfielder has played just 86 minutes over three appearances in League One, with a return to Liverpool likely in January.

Elsewhere over the weekend, it was more positive for Luca Stephenson, who came off the bench after just 13 minutes in Barrow’s 1-1 draw with Notts County and earned Man of the Match.

Stephenson replaced Tyrell Warren early in the first half and produced an all-action display in midfield.

For Tyler Morton, there was another 90 minutes for Hull as they drew 2-2 with Millwall, while Fabio Carvalho and Nat Phillips came off the bench for RB Leipzig and Celtic respectively.

2RWF3PX Mainz's Sepp van den Berg during a German Bundesliga soccer match between FSV Mainz 05 and VfB Stuttgart in Mainz, Germany, Saturday, Sept. 16, 2023. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)

Sepp van den Berg saw Mainz’s losing run finally end after four consecutive defeats in the Bundesliga, playing 90 minutes in a 2-2 draw with Borussia Monchengladbach.

There was a full game, too, for Harvey Davies, who was involved in a hugely controversial 4-2 loss to Salford City that left Crewe furious with referee Thomas Kirk.

Kirk’s association with Salford, as a Man United fan, was flagged by supporters on social media, while Crewe manager Lee Bell criticised the official for an offside call he got “drastically wrong” as his side scored again at 2-2.

Two more goalkeepers made starts, too, with Jakub Ojrzynski keeping his place after a clean sheet for Den Bosch the previous weekend.

2RYAFM5 Groningen, Netherlands. 29th Sep, 2023. GRONINGEN, NETHERLANDS - SEPTEMBER 29: goalkeeper Jakub Ojrzynski of FC Den Bosch makes a save during the Dutch Keuken Kampioen Divisie match between FC Groningen and FC Den Bosch at Euroborg on September 29, 2023 in Groningen, Netherlands (Photo by Pieter van der Woude/ Orange Pictures) Credit: Orange Pics BV/Alamy Live News

Unfortunately, the Pole was unable to record another shutout as his side lost 1-0 to FC Eindhoven, with Luke Hewitson also on the end of a defeat with Stalybridge Celtic.

Stalybridge Celtic’s 5-1 loss to Leek Town came with two goals for former Liverpool academy midfielder Dan Trickett-Smith.

Finally, Dominic Corness came off the bench as Yverdon Sport suffered a 3-0 defeat to Grasshoppers.

Billy Koumetio was left out of the squad again for USL Dunkerque, having gone unused in three games since picking up a one-match suspension for being sent off on his debut.

Liverpool Loan Watch Roundup

2RJG8JM LEVERKUSEN - Fabio Carvalho of RB Leipzig during the Bundesliga match between Bayer 04 Leverkusen - RB Leipzig at DE Bay Arena on May 27, 2023 in Leverkusen, Germany. AP | Dutch Height | GERRIT OF COLOGNE

  • Fabio Carvalho (RB Leipzig) – 12 mins vs. Bochum
  • Nat Phillips (Celtic) – 17 mins vs. Kilmarnock
  • Sepp van den Berg (Mainz) – 90 mins vs. Gladbach
  • Tyler Morton (Hull) – 90 mins vs. Millwall
  • Harvey Davies (Crewe) – 90 mins vs. Salford City
  • Dominic Corness (Yverdon Sport) – 17 mins vs. Grasshoppers
  • Luca Stephenson (Barrow) 77 mins vs. Notts County, MOTM
  • Jakub Ojrzynski (Den Bosch) – 90 mins vs. FC Eindhoven
  • Luke Hewitson (Stalybridge Celtic) – 90 mins vs. Leek Town

Injured: Calvin Ramsay, Rhys Williams, Adam Lewis
Unused: James Balagizi, Billy Koumetio, James Norris, Anderson Arroyo
Game postponed: Owen Beck