'They earned their way into Klopp's thinking': LFC U18s coach opens up on academy youngsters Slot 'can trust'

'They earned their way into Klopp's thinking': LFC U18s coach opens up on academy youngsters Slot 'can trust'

Liverpool under-18s coach Marc Bridge-Wilkinson spoke to Liverpool Echo ahead of Arne Slot's arrival at the club.

He spoke about the eight academy graduates who were a part of Jurgen Klopp's last ever trophy win with Liverpool at Wembley in February as the Reds won the League Cup.

Caoimhin Kelleher, Conor Bradley, Bobby Clark, James McConnell, Jarell Quansah and Jayden Danns all played minutes in the final, while Lewis Koumas and Trey Nyoni were on the bench.

"Whether it was the players or the members of staff, everybody felt really in tune with the game," he told Liverpool Echo. "I couldn't take my eyes off it.

"I watched the game sat with Alex (Inglethorpe, Liverpool's Academy director) and I don't think I've ever seen him as nervous - but I was thinking, 'let's go, let's have a bit of this!'.

"I'm making mental notes about Dannsy's movement and thinking I have to talk to him about this or that and then I thought, 'what am I doing? He's playing in a Carabao Cup final! Let's just park that for one day!'.

"That would be my highlight of the season. It epitomised what we try to do as an Academy. We'd just gone away to Morocco on a tour with a younger group than we initially expected because we had so many in the first-team squad. We came back and stayed in London and took all the under-18s and 21s to watch the final at Wembley.

"It was an amazing experience to see the boys watching their peers, the lads they train with and know really well, play in the game, a top-level final, and then win it. It was quite special. There were players in the first-team squad who have worked with pretty much every coach at the club, year after year been through the Academy, so to see them get that moment brings home how important what we do as coaches and the reason we keep doing it."

"We will continue to do what we've always done and look to develop players," added Bridge-Wilkinson.

"I don't think Jurgen played these players because they were young - he played them because he could trust them and they had earned their way into his thinking.

"They are the ones who pushed themselves through the door. The door was definitely open, but Jurgen wasn't just taking on players willy-nilly.

"We don't know the new manager yet but our job will remain the same - pushing the youngsters to improve and getting them ready to take their opportunity."

AuthorGursher ChabbaSourceLiverpool Echo