Despite a poor start to this season’s Premier League campaign, Liverpool’s form since the turn of the New Year has been formidable and they remain the only unbeaten team in the top flight in 2015.
After losing three of their first five matches, fans feared the worst but a change in tactics from Rodgers and an improvement in his players have seen them close in on a Champions League spot.
The Reds, who currently sit in fifth place following Wednesday’s victory at Anfield, have fielded a youthful team this season and many were surprised at the ease in which these young footballers teased the champions, Manchester City, a week ago. Out of the 28 players to represent Liverpool’s first team squad in all competitions this season, 17 of those players are 25 or younger. The average age of the Liverpool squad is just under 25 and eight of the players in the squad are 21 or younger.
As the first team squad’s youth shines, Liverpool’s prestigious academy continues to produce stars. Jordan Rossiter, Danny Ward, Ibe, Cameron Brannagan and Jordan Williams have all been included in the first team squad this year, whether it be in the Europa League, the League Cup or the Premier League. They have progressed through the academy and made the all-important step up to the Melwood training ground with Liverpool’s elite.
Tom Brewitt, who currently captains the Liverpool academy Under-18’s side, has played alongside the likes of Jordan Rossiter throughout his development and admitted the youngster’s success gives him hope.
“When you see players like Jordan Rossiter and Jordan Williams, who I train with week-in-week-out, go on and play for the first team, it shows you how close you are and how hard you’ve got to work to get there,” he said.
“I’ve played with Jordan [Rossiter] since he was eight and he’s worked hard to get to the top – he’s obviously talented, but he’s worked hard too. All the players who get to Liverpool are talented because of how big the club is but once you’re here, it’s all about doing everything you can to get to where you want to be.”
Brewitt joined the Liverpool academy when he nine after a successful trial. He’d captained the Liverpool schoolboys and though he’d been rejected by the club on two previous occasions, had finally been selected to join their development school. He’s progressed through the age groups at Liverpool’s academy and captained the England Under-17s in Belgium last January before picking up an injury which halted his international career.
“I’ve not played for England since I got injured and that still hurts a bit but my main focus is here at Liverpool. I want to keep training hard and push to get into the Under-21s and to get more opportunities to train at Melwood.”
Rodgers has always been positive when it comes to developing the club’s youth and has demonstrated his willingness to use younger players already this season. He handed first team debuts to Rossiter and Williams in the League Cup clash against Middlesborough and 18-year-old Brannagan was also named in Liverpool’s squad against Besiktas in the Europa League, although he didn’t make an appearance.
Rodgers was also responsible for handing Jordon Ibe his debut in the Premier League against Queens Park Rangers in May 2013. The Liverpool Under-18s captain hopes that one day, Rodgers could hand him his Liverpool debut.
“The manager does his best to make sure we’re at Melwood, training with the first team, as much as possible and it makes you feel a lot closer. He incorporates the academy into the first team’s plans – the manager is great like that.
“When the manager says he’ll turn to the youth it gives everyone belief that if you keep working hard and work on your weaknesses to improve your game, he’ll give you a chance to earn his trust.
“Every time you go to Melwood you have to do well. Not only fit in – but do well. You’re not just there to make up the numbers, you’ve got to go there and make a statement that you want to be selected at the next opportunity.”
Brewitt looks up to the likes of Jamie Carragher, a former defender, like the young captain, who went on to produce over 700 appearances for Liverpool. The youngster admitted his ultimate dream would be “to captain Liverpool and lead the team out at Anfield.”
Under Brendan Rodgers, his dream is kept alive.
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