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Neil Critchley has hailed his young U23s team for their efforts in Saturday’s 1-0 defeat to West Ham.
Liverpool’s youth team once again consisted of a number of Steven Gerrard’s U18s prospects as a result of multiple high-profile loan departures during January.
Despite a spirited and notably mature display, the Reds starlets were left frustrated and subsequently loosened their grip on the Premier League 2 top spot.
“We had three first-year scholars starting on that pitch and some of the players have played very few games at U23 level,” Critchley told Liverpoolfc.com.
“Going 1-0 down so early on in the game, we could easily have caved in there against a powerful team, and physically and mentally we could have wilted, but we didn’t. We stuck at it and the team that was on top in the second half was us.”
There was an U23s debut for right-back Neco Williams, as well as starts for the likes of Elijah Dixon-Bonner, Adam Lewis, Liam Millar and Curtis Jones.
Critchley’s selection combined with recent debuts for Rafael Camacho, Tom Clayton and Edvard Tagseth in serving as testament to the faith in the quality flowing throughout Liverpool’s youth system.
The Reds’ U18s have been in superb form this season and currently sit third in the league thanks to seven wins, five draws and only two defeats.
An early promotion to the next age bracket arose courtesy of a mass exodus of Critchley’s prominent figures seeking a taste a regular first team football.
Though the U23s’ title hopes are likely to take a hit, the tough end to the season marks a valuable opportunity for the club’s teenagers to test themselves against stronger opposition.