SOUVENIR PROGRAMME

BRADFORD, ENGLAND - Tuesday, December 5, 2023: Liverpool's Ben Doak during the English Football League Trophy Round of 32 match between Bradford City AFC and Liverpool FC Under-21's at Valley Parade. (Photo by Ed Sykes/Propaganda)

Ben Doak injury explained after limping out of Liverpool U21s loss

There were understandable concerns as Ben Doak limped off during Liverpool U21s’ 4-0 loss to Bradford in the EFL Trophy, with injury problems piling up.

Doak was a surprise starter as the young Reds took on League Two opposition in their first time in the last 32 of the EFL Trophy.

The 18-year-old, whose last appearance for the first team was in the 3-2 loss to Toulouse almost a month ago, was brought into the side along with Luke Chambers.

But a difficult night, compounded by Lewis Koumas‘ first-half red card, was made worse as Doak appeared to suffer an injury with 20 minutes left to play.

He was replaced by Melkamu Frauendorf, with fears he would join Alisson, Joel Matip, Andy Robertson, Thiago, Stefan Bajcetic and Diogo Jota on the senior absentee list.

However, This Is Anfield understands that, despite suggestions of ankle or hamstring problems, Doak had simply suffered a major bout of cramp.

BRADFORD, ENGLAND - Tuesday, December 5, 2023: Liverpool's Ben Doak gioes down with an injury as Bradford City's Ciaran Kelly helps during the English Football League Trophy Round of 32 match between Bradford City AFC and Liverpool FC Under-21's at Valley Parade. (Photo by Ed Sykes/Propaganda)

It may rule him out of contention for the trip to Crystal Palace in the Premier League on Saturday, but there should be hopes of a return against Union SG on December 14.

Doak is likely to be considered for a start in that Europa League clash if fit, with Liverpool already through to the last 16 as winners of Group E.

There should perhaps be no surprise that Doak picked up cramp in such a demanding tie for the U21s, with his workload only increasing after Koumas’ dismissal.

A lack of regular minutes for either the first team or the U21s – playing just once in the past two months prior to Tuesday night – may have made the Scot more susceptible to injury.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Thursday, October 5, 2023: Liverpool substitutes Andy Robertson (L) and Ben Doak laugh on the bench before the UEFA Europa League Group E matchday 2 game between Liverpool FC and Union SG at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

While Doak is benefiting from training with Jurgen Klopp‘s squad on a daily basis, the fact remains that he has played more for Scotland U21s than at any level for Liverpool this season.

It is a difficult balance to strike, with the winger often unable to travel and play with the U21s as he is working at the AXA Training Centre or with the first team for matchdays.

This could prompt calls for a loan move in January, though it is unlikely Klopp will consider a temporary exit for his No. 50 despite its advantages.

With Mohamed Salah due to depart for the Africa Cup of Nations next month, there could be more opportunities for Doak on the right flank.