Connor Randall scored a stoppage-time winner as Liverpool U23s qualified for the knockout stages of the Premier League Cup after a 1-0 win at West Bromwich Albion on Tuesday evening.

Mike Garrity’s side had already secured top spot in Group G after impressive wins over Huddersfield and Ipswich Town, and Randall’s late strike gave the young Reds their fifth win in six games in the cup.

Nathaniel Phillips started in the victory, and the defender has revealed this week that he had turned down offers from America to link up with the Reds for the 2016/17 season.

Phillips, 19, was released from the Bolton Wanderers academy this week and was determined to pursue a football scholarship in the United States and moments before his departure to the US, he received a phone call from Liverpool with an offer after a successful trial.

Liverpool U23s: Kelleher; Whelan, Phillips, Gomez, Randall; Williams, Virtue, Alves; Ojo, Dhanda (Hart 68’ (M Gomes 82’)), Brewster.

The U23s were the only academy side in action this week, as the U18s had a break from the Premier League before the final game of the original season.

However, there was still huge news from Neil Critchley’s camp this week as top scorer Glen McAuley signed his first professional contract on his 17th birthday, before scoring a brace for the U17s in a 2-2 draw against Manchester United.

McAuley, 17, has scored 14 goals in the Premier League this season with the Irishman firing the young Reds up to third in the table in his debut season for the U18s.

In other transfer news, Liverpool are one of several Premier League clubs monitoring West Ham youngster Ajibola Alese.

Alese, 16, has been a permanent fixture in the Hammers’ U18s side in 2016/17, and his performances have attracted interest from Liverpool, Manchester City and others.

Alese is currently a schoolboy with West Ham, and if Slaven Bilic is to keep hold of his star defender, then they will have to offer him a professional contract, something he cannot sign until his 17th birthday.

Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp is keen to develop the youth at the Academy, with Trent Alexander-Arnold, Ovie Ejaria and Ben Woodburn making the step up to the first-team this season.

The Reds boss has already agreed to move the first-team to the Academy site at Kirkby as a new way of integrating youth into the first-team environment.

However, Alese isn’t the only young player to be linked with a move to Kirkby this week, after Liverpool have reportedly made an offer for Santos star Rodrygo, according to Globoesporte.

The striker, 17, is one of several Brazilian youngsters to be highly-rated and will be looking to follow in the footsteps of Barcelona forward Neymar, who began his career with the Brazilian club.

Again, in a bid the club to keep him, Santos have started talks with the forward about signing his first professional contract, after being with the club since the age of 11.

Rodrygo has yet to establish himself in the first-team but did sign a deal with Nike when he was 11, and it is likely that he is to make the step up to Santos, if he does not join Liverpool.

Written by Scott Taylor

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