Jurgen Klopp believes Liverpool would be ‘lost’ this season without the emergence of several talented academy graduates given their injury problems.
Liverpool have been amongst the worst affected sides in the Premier League with injuries this season and have seen a number of key players ruled out for significant periods, with a host of youthful options having been handed opportunities in their absence.
Academy graduates Curtis Jones, Neco Williams and Rhys Williams have all featured so far this season, whilst 22-year-old goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher has kept clean sheets on his Champions League and Premier League debuts over the past week.
Each of the quartet will be hoping to feature as Liverpool take on FC Midtjylland in the Champions League tomorrow evening, with the Reds able to rotate their options having already assured their progress to the knockout stages as group winners.
Klopp admits it has been important for his side to see the club’s youngsters take their opportunity in the first-team, praising the impact of Liverpool’s academy graduates in the absence of several senior stars.
‘It is. We don’t have to say it any differently, we had some problems injury-wise, that’s clear,’ Klopp told his pre-match press conference.
‘We lost top, top, top, top-class players to injuries. But, of course, one door closes and another opens up. That’s how it is. But then you still need the right kids or right players to use the chance, how the boys did it.
‘We can go through all of them. What Rhys Williams did so far in the Champions League is exceptional. What Nat Phillips did when he played in the Premier League was absolutely exceptional. Neco played now two really good games in a row, especially the last one was really good. Curtis plays like he played already 10 years for us. Caoimhin was always a talent, now he got the chance to show that on the big stage and used the opportunity, nice for him.
‘Without them, we would have been lost, to be honest. And thank God, it worked out. The biggest part is obviously that they really are ready for it, they are the biggest reason for it.
‘But Vitor Matos and Pep Lijnders are really close to that group before they join us even. So they were really well prepared. That’s good and that’s why we could use them in the way we use them.’