Liverpool U18s saw their unbeaten run came to an end this week, whilst midfielder Cameron Brannagan will join Oxford United on a permanent deal.
The U18s suffered their first defeat of the season in a heavy 4-0 defeat to Spurs on Wednesday afternoon as they crashed out of the Premier League Cup at the quarter-final stages.
U18s FT: Spurs 4-0 Liverpool – Excellent victory against the leaders of the northern section of the league as we march into the semi-finals of the U18 Premier League Cup! #COYS pic.twitter.com/L1KDNia5A0
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) January 10, 2018
Steven Gerrard’s side remain top of the U18 Premier League, a point clear of Manchester City, and the manager has demanded an immediate response from his side.
He told liverpoolfc.com: “I’m being kind when I said to them that only three or four never turned up today. Those players know who they are but it’s gone and there’s nothing we can do to change it.”
Despite the defeat, Gerrard believes that he has finally assembled a competitive squad as they look to compete in both the Premier League and the FA Youth Cup.
He added: “Now this is the first time since I took this job that now I’ve got headaches on a Friday to pick the team, but that’s a nice problem and we’ve told the players you are playing for places now.”
His comments came after Liverpool began 2018 on a positive note with a 6-1 thrashing away at Blackburn Rovers, with Portuguese starlet Rafael Camacho netting a hat-trick.
Liam Millar and Edvard Tagseth were also on target for the Premier League leaders, and the Reds boss hailed the performance as ‘nearly perfect’.
Despite scoring a hat-trick, Gerrard believes that Camacho must improve if he is to keep his place.
“Rafa needs to put other things around his game like chasing back and being a team player and being trusted to be in the right areas of the pitch at the right time,” he added. “If he gets both sides of the game right then he has got a bright future.”
Camacho labelled Gerrard as a special coach, and believes that Klopp is one of the best coaches he has ever worked with, after speaking in an exclusive interview with A Bola.
He said: “Klopp’s one of the best in the world, but he doesn’t fail to have a special concern for the youngsters.”
“He’s been fantastic with me, tries to tell me to be as calm as possible, not to be afraid of making mistakes, to do what I know.”
Gerrard has also admitted he would have loved to have Tagseth in his team and would have hated to play against Millar because ‘he’s got the turbo pace, he is an athlete, he doesn’t stop and he harries.’
Elsewhere, Liverpool U23s’ clash with Arsenal was postponed on Sunday due to a frozen pitch, but despite the abandonment, Neil Critchley’s side remain top of Premier League 2.
Rhian Brewster has been a key part of the Reds’ success this season, scoring five goals and providing seven assists in just ten games this season, and Jürgen Klopp believes he is the future of Liverpool.
Klopp said: “We are the future of Rhian Brewster. He is part of the future of Liverpool. We all love him and he will get opportunities but I will not do it just to let him smell a little bit of the Anfield air.”
Ryan Kent is a player that has experienced working under the guidance of Klopp, and has this week returned to Liverpool after his loan spell with Bundesliga side SC Freiburg was cut short.
Ryan Kent was among those to return to training at Melwood today. 👏 https://t.co/lWLfp78zdP
— Anfield HQ (@AnfieldHQ) January 10, 2018
The winger, 21, played just six times in the Bundesliga this season, and returned to full training on Wednesday, but is likely to be loaned out again amid interest from Bristol City and Sheffield United.
Kent impressed whilst on a loan spell with Barnsley in the 2016/17 season, scoring three goals and creating three assists in 47 matches at Oakwell.
Ben Woodburn is also subject to an imminent loan move, with the midfielder increasingly linked with a move to Championship strugglers Sunderland before the end of the January transfer window.
Chris Coleman has publicly stated that he wants young and hungry players at the Stadium of Light, however Woodburn’s loan move may be pushed back after the sale of Phillipe Coutinho.
Elsewhere, Liverpool want Harry Wilson and Ovie Ejaria to sign new deals before loaning them out, but both players have been stalling over the contract extensions offered to them.
They are keen to gain first-team experience elsewhere rather than continue to feature for the U23s, with a whole host of Championship clubs registering their interest in the exciting midfield duo.
Corey Whelan has left Liverpool on loan this week, with the U23s captain joining League Two side Yeovil Town until the end of the season.
The Republic of Ireland youth international has played 13 times for the Reds this season, and made his debut for the Glovers as they shocked League One’s Bradford City at Huish Park in the FA Cup.
Another player who will leave Anfield this month is Cameron Brannagan, with the midfielder set to join League One side Oxford United on a two-and-a-half year deal.
Brannagan, 21, has played just eight times for the U23s this season, but has generated interest from Real Madrid and Barcelona in the past and will sign for the League One outfit for an undisclosed fee.
After holding talks on Tuesday, Brannagan is set to be unveiled on Thursday in time for the U’s trip to Walsall on Saturday.