Who is the next Martin Kelly?

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By Aron

Martin Kelly has made one of the most impressive academy breakthroughs for LFC in a long time. Displacing an English international from his preferred position is no easy feat, but having it come from a newly minted first-team player playing out of position is truly impressive. He eagerly grasped the opportunity to play and didn’t relent until he had firmly established himself on the first team.

With no offense intended for Jay Spearing, it has been many years since a Liverpool academy player has risen through the ranks and made a significant impact. In fact Jamie Carragher and Stephen Gerrard are generally regarded as the last two great Liverpool academy graduates to make it, which is understandably a troubling fact.
Aiming to fix the problem, Rafa Benitez put significant focus on the youth setup and we also saw Kenny Daglish acting as academy ambassador to inspire the youth. As a result we are now seeing a number of promising young players coming up and are beginning to knock on the first team door.
Much has been made lately of young Raheem Stirling, Suso, Connor Coady and others in the academy, however it is most likely they are too young to make a significant impact next year. Instead I am focusing on those academy graduates on the cusp of the first team and who will be more than squad players.
As I see it, the potential candidates are:
– Stephen Darby – Right back – 22 years old
– Jay Spearing – Midfielder – 22 years old
– Dani Pacheco – Striker/Attacking midfielder – 20 years old
– Daniel Ayala – Center back – 20 years old
– Nathan Eccleston – Striker – 20 years old
– David Amoo – Striker / Winger – 19 years old
– Tom Ince – Midfielder / Striker – 19 years old
Note: I have not listed Jonjo Shelvey, Danny Wilson, or David N’Gog as they are not academy products.
I will take a probably somewhat unconventional approach and say Daniel Ayala. Why him you ask? Well he had a very solid run at Hull on loan this year before getting injured. How good? As the BBC stated “(he) was a key figure in a back-line that one of the best defensive records in the Championship”. Furthermore he benefits from a possible opening in the first team: Sotorios Kyrgiakos’s contract expires this year and the young Spaniard is in a prime spot to take his roster spot.
So I put the question to you: Who do you think will be the next Martin Kelly?
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  1. Stephen Darby – good but @ 22 missed his chance, he’ll move on

    Jay Spearing – already in the first team

    Dani Pacheco – 20 years old, already in the first team

    Daniel Ayala – Kelly is ahead of him for the CB position

    Nathan Eccleston – good but will probably be moved on

    David Amoo – good but too early

    Tom Ince – not ready for the prem, would do well leaving and building his career though it wouldn’t hurt to keep him a year or two

  2. Gerrard and Carra were both first team starters by the age of 19. All these players have passed that point and would already be playing regularly for us if they were good enough. All will be playing lower league football in 2 years time, apart from Pacheco who will probably be loaned back to Spain.

  3. By the sounds of things Suso or Coady seem to be front runners but there can always be a gem in the rough.

  4. Stephen Darby – Not good enough sadly – sell

    Jay Spearing – Not good enough sadly – squad or sell

    Dani Pacheco – not given enough chances to be sure, possible attitude problems – on loan

    Daniel Ayala – great reviews he should be in the first team squad as Centre Half – next Kelly.

    Nathan Eccleston – Not good enough sadly – sell

    David Amoo – too inconsitant – loan to see if he will progress

    Tom Ince – too much of a ‘show pony’, thinks he is better than he is. Dont think he will make it, loan to see if his feet will come back down to earth

    I think Coady, Wisdom, Flannagan, Suso should be integrated into the first team squad next year as they are HUGE prospects. Stirling still too young

  5. I reckon Ayala will be a major part of our defence next year. He’s by far the most ready academy player out of the lot.

    Stephen Darby: Never really good enough. Will move on in the summer.

    Jay Spearing: Currently isn’t and never will be good enough to even make the bench if we intend on challenging for trophies in the next few years. Will be moved on in the summer.

    Dani Pacheco: Great talent, but his attitude is questionable. Might move on in the summer.

    Nathan Eccleston: Skillful and pacy, but not good enough. Will move on.

    David Amoo: His ship seems to have sailed. I doubt he’ll get any 1st team action this year or next.

    Tom Ince: Good player. I’d keep him if his cheap dad would accept our contract offer.

    I also reckon Coady will get 10+ first team appearances next year. He’s 18 and is physically ready to brave the Prem.

  6. Stephen Darby: Too lightweight, Martin Kelly is in his way and i can’t see him pushing on, solid championship player in future.
    Jay Spearing: Alot of heart but lacks confidence on the ball, Liverpool are about ball players, not sure if he has enough quality for a team who should be challenging.
    Dani Pacheco: Outstanding talent as seen in Euro under 19 championship, will be retained, whether he pushes on or not depends on how many people stand in his way, Gerrard, Cole, Suarez, Kuyt, Aquilani if returns all play in the whole where Pacheco is best.
    Nathan Eccleston: Saw him 3 years ago in senior cup final vs Man Utd and was outstanding as was Steven Irwin, but don’t think has enough quality for Liverpool FC right now, loan to get games and see how he goes?
    David Amoo: Fast, Strong but inconsistent, not a ball player and is a bit fo a luxury, very similar to Ryan Babel, Good championship player.
    Tom Ince: Again outstanding performer in youth and reserves, good with ball at feet, loves a pass and running at defenders, if had had the tenacity of his dad then maybe a very good player for future, already shown he can handle league 1 at a young age…would like to see him in a year or two.

    As for the youth team, they are 2-3 years off, Sterling is an otustanding natural talent, Suso is excellent ont he ball but will he last the rough and tumble of the Prem.
    For me Andre Wisdom is going to be a greeat talent, Flanagan reminds me of a young Carragher, Coady is a winner, but technically? I’m quietly excited by the prospect of an excellent future of Liverpool PLayers coming through, just have to wait and see!

  7. This may sound a bit outrageous and controversial, considering how well Kelly has done, but I honestly believe Wisdom is as good as him and could become better. Superb, strong, classy defender. Can defend well and bring it out of defence. Can pick a pass too. Pacheco, Suso, Coady, Ayala, Wisdom, Robinson, Flanaghan, Sterling and Morgan all look capable of making it. If we can get 2 or 3 from that list, our academy is finally showing real progress

  8. Nobody has mentioned jack robinson, y not take a chance on him at left back while fabio an konchesky r out injured/loan. He cant do any worse than what we have suffered over the last few seasons, with exception to daniel agger who has done a decent enough job out of position

  9. Ayala not good enough!!! hes not quick enough.
    give pacheco a chance he is a really good player. if we dont play him hes off. then we will have a next david villa at a different team. suso great player but not physically fit yet!!!!

  10. Dalglish needs to realise that his continual excuses to delay putting in the youth players will not wash for long with NESV. Coady,Flanagan,Wisdom,Robinson,Suso,Sterling,Morgan and Ngoo among others need to spend serious time in the gym bulking up but their ability is there for all to see and they should be given serious game time in the Premier League and in the cups next season.

  11. king kenny must give pacheco his chance at playing for the first team.. not only warming the bench..
    pacheco deserves it, he must gets his chance to show his quality..:)
    come on king kenny

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