Tiago Ilori has this week give some small insight into his fledgling Liverpool career – more than two years on from joining the club from Sporting Lisbon.
Sadly, we’re yet to see the best – or indeed anything – of the 22-year-old, who is still waiting for his first senior appearance for Brendan Rodgers’ side.
It was hoped that this summer, with the youngster coming off an excellent showing with the Portuguese side at the European Under-21 Championships, that he would get his chance to shine during our pre-season tour of the Far East. However, an injury he picked up during the tournament prevented him from doing so.
He did at least make his return to action on Wednesday, playing the first 45 minutes of our youth team draw with Merseyside rivals Everton. Ironically, Liverpool led 3-1 when Ilori was withdrawn, and ended up drawing the game 3-3 – giving some small indication of the player’s qualities.
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Speaking after the game, Ilori admitted it’s been frustrating watching from the sidelines this summer: “I haven’t played for a few months,” he told the Echo. “So the most important thing for me was to get back into action.”
“It was frustrating to get injured but at the same time I hadn’t had a holiday for two years and you need some time off, so it came at the right time.
“I want to play for Liverpool. I don’t want to be in Liverpool just to be sitting around. My objective is the same as every other player, we all want to play so everyone’s going to fight for their place.”
As for the game itself, Ilori confirmed that he’s being steadily eased back into action and only ever planned to play during the first-half: “It was always the idea just to play the first-half,” he continued. “I haven’t played for two months so they want to take things slow but I’m a step closer to being 100%.
“It was good tonight. Sometimes it’s a bit difficult, I don’t really know the players, they don’t really know me. We play differently – the last time I played was for the Portugal team where we’ve known each other for a long time and have our own particular way of playing.”
Ilori, who has spent the last two seasons on loan at Granada in Spain and Bordeaux in France had barely ever pulled on a Liverpool shirt before last night, and he admitted that he’ll need some more time to adjust.
“Being back in Liverpool and getting used to the different way of playing and the players is difficult but it’s good,” he revealed. “I joined Liverpool two seasons ago to play for Liverpool, that is my number one objective so I’m going to do everything to make that happen.
“The injury during the Euros was frustrating, I felt somehow and decided I had to come off but then I played the final and felt great. It was frustrating not being able to start with the rest of the group in pre-season but it was better it happened then than in the season.
“Injury wise, I’m now 100%. I chose Liverpool over a few other teams a couple of years ago and it’s always been my dream to play in the Premier League. To be at a club like this is a dream come true – the next step is playing for it. I just know that I need to carry on working.”