>After Luis Suarez’s 30+ goals this season, as well as the big signings of Daniel Sturridge, Fabio Borini and Andy Carroll, it seems that there is vast competition for places in the forwards department at Liverpool Football Club, so does that mean that there is no chance for our academy forwards to break into the first team? This feature will look at 5 of our young strikers and analysis their chances of a future at Liverpool.
When Sinclair came on as a substitute in the Capital One Cup tie against West Brom at The Hawthorns, he became Liverpool’s youngest ever player beating Jack Robinson, who played for Liverpool against Hull at the age of 16 years and 250 days old in May 2010. The striker, aged just 16 years and 6 days old, inspired his team to a 2-1 triumph, ironically against his former side. The Under 18s and England Under 17s striker has impressed throughout the 2012/13 season scoring 14 goals, the highest in Liverpool’s Academy. His natural strengths are indeed his ability in front of goal, and his hunger for goals, having scored on his comeback from injury against Wolves Under 18s on Saturday morning. Also, his pace is an attribute not to be taken lightly. He can be highly influential and his pace will trouble opponents’ defences all day long, and his pace was evidently missed against Chelsea Under 18s in the FA Youth Cup Semi Final . Of course, he is not the perfect striker and does have weaknesses. His first weakness is his ability in the air. This can be due to a combination of lack of strength and height, but has scored a few headed goals this season for Steve Coopers’ Under 18s. After making his debut in a cup competition, the 16 year old will have a bright future in cup games, but will find it hard because of Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge’s experience. It seems though Sinclair has huge potential and plays best as a ‘number 9’, however he will only play regular first team football if a 4-3-3 formation is played, or if the more experience strikers are injured or banned. There is some hope though and that is down to his energy. Sinclair is a very energetic player and because of this, he can be used as an effective impact sub, and can potentially change a game in Liverpool’s favour.
Verdict: Potential yet specific future.
17 year old Jordon Ibe is another player with enormous potential at Liverpool Football Club, and has experience in Under 18 and Under 21 level. After signing from Wycombe Wanderers in December 2011, Ibe has not looked back and has only developed as a player and relished the opportunity to play for Liverpool. Ibe is another key squad member in Steve Cooper’s Under 18s, scoring many significant goals including a brace in the FA Youth Cup Sixth Round against Leeds, where his Under 18 side won 3-1. He is also one of few players who have played for both the Under 18s and the Under 21s, and has been an influential figure when he has played for Alex Inglethorpe. His most recent contribution for the Under 21s was an assist for Adam Morgan’s first goal, whilst he has consistently performed in the FA Youth Cup and the league for Steve Cooper’s Under 18s. The England international, like Sinclair has also played for the first team. He made his first team debut against Toronto FC on the 22nd July, where he played 45 minutes in a 1-1 draw. This was also Brendan Rodgers’ first match in charge, so playing Ibe emphasises that Rodgers has Ibe in his plans. Despite scoring goals consistently, Ibe’s main attribute is his pace and his creativity on the wing. His brilliant individual goal against Leeds in the FA Youth Cup highlighted his pace after the England Under 17 player ran over 70 yards to score Liverpool’s and his 2nd of the match. Also, because of his performances for the Academy, he earned call-ups to the first team squad for the matches against Southampton and Aston Villa. Ibe was used as an unused substitute for the match at St Marys, however was not in the final 16 for the game at Villa Park. He did however make his breakthrough in the last game of the season against QPR where he contributed with an assist for Phillipe Coutinho, becoming the youngest player in England to get an assist in the 2012/13 season. Jordon Ibe will have a future at Liverpool and can be a possible replacement for Stewart Downing, so with the front 4 of Coutinho, Sturridge, Suarez and Ibe, Liverpool will once again be dominant in front of goal.
Verdict: Big future as a regular starter.
The next striker that is fighting for a future at Anfield is Adam Morgan. Morgan has come through the ranks at the Kirkby Academy, and was soon noticed in the 2010/11 season, as the Liverpudlian scored 18 goals in 16 appearances. Since then Morgan has been a very important player for the Liverpool Under 21s scoring 18 goals in 38 games, including 3 in the NextGen series. Similar to Jordon Ibe, Morgan was also part of Brendan Rodgers’ first game in charge against Toronto FC, and Morgan scored Liverpool’s only goal in a 1-1 draw. However unlike Ibe and Sinclair, Morgan continued to play a part in Liverpool’s pre-season tour, making appearances against both Roma and Tottenham Hotspur. As an Academy graduate, Morgan has the most experience and a mix of experience and skill resulted in him playing a part in Liverpool’s Europa League campaign, as the 18 year old was in the squad against Hearts and BSC Young Boys. Despite his goal scoring record for the Under 21s, Morgan has not played any part in Liverpool’s premier league games, and was sent on loan to League 2 Rotherham United for 3 weeks, where he made his only appearance against Aldershot Town in a FA Cup 3rd Round match. His main strength is his natural ablilty in front of goal, and his awareness to make runs and get into spaces, however he does have weaknesses. Morgan relies very much on confidence, and when he is low on confidence, he will find himself passing the ball a lot more where he would have shot before. This shows that Morgan needs to mature even more if he is going to be successful, so that he can put his bad form behind him instead of thinking about it too much. In order to be successful, Morgan will need more first team experience, however it is unlikely that he will get it for Liverpool in the near future, and will only play in Cup matches at most. This means that the England Under 19 International will need to go out on loan, possibly to Championship clubs, like team-mate Jack Robinson to improve as a player.
Verdict: More First Team Experience required but is a natural goalscorer.
Currently out on loan at SPL side Hearts, Michael Ngoo has been an instant success with the Scottish club, scoring 4 goals in 11 appearances and becoming a fan favourite in the process. Starting his career at Arch Rivals Manchester United as a trialist, Ngoo then moved to Southend, where he began to play regular first team football. He caught the eye of Liverpool Scouts and moved to Melwood as a 16 year old in a deal that can potentially reach £250,000. Like at Hearts, Ngoo was an instant success with Liverpool Under 18s scoring 15 goals in just 21 appearances, and continued his fine form by becoming the then Liverpool Reserves’ top goalscorer. Being the oldest of the Academy forwards, Ngoo now has vital first team experience at a very good standard of football, which sets him up nicely for the future. The 20 year old from East London has developed as a player since arriving in 2009, and has multiple strengths. Firstly, the main strength of Ngoo is his actual strength and hold-up play, which can be vital when playing a 4-5-1 formation, or when on a counter attack. Another vital attribute that Ngoo has is his ability to play under pressure. This was proven on his Hearts debut, as it was a Scottish League Cup Semi-Final against Inverness, where Ngoo scored a goal and a penalty in 5-4 penalty win. The most notable feature that Ngoo has is his height. His height is devastating when it comes to receiving crosses, as shown against Ross County. However, Ngoo is the only striker that lacks pace, and because of this will not fit into Brendan Rodgers’ style of play, as seen with Andy Carroll. However, due to his strength, Ngoo can develop so that he can play in a holding role if he is a forward, and since he is only 20 he can adapt so that he can play in many positions and a key position for him may possibly be in a midfield role, similar to that of Abou Diaby at Arsenal, but less injury prone than the Frenchman.
Verdict: Has potential, but not necessarily in a forward role.
Since signing from Bayer Leverkusen in 2012, Samed Yesil has found life at Liverpool very hard in a very injury stricken first season at Melwood, however the German international will be looking to bounce back from injury and become a regular starter and goalscorer for Alex Inglethorpe’s Under 21s next season. Although he has not made a significant impact at Liverpool so far, Yesil has appeared for the first team twice this season in the Capital One Cup, in the win at West Bromwich Albion and the home defeat to Swansea City, who went on to win the competition. However despite his very limited impact, the stats show that Yesil is a natural born goalscorer, in his time at Bayer Leverkusen, Yesil scored 57 goals in 71 games, meaning he scored a goal every 112 minutes, emphasising the fact that Yesil is a prolific goalscorer. It is not just for his club where Yesil has scored so consistently. In his 32 games for Germany Under 16s through to Germany Under 19s, Yesil has scored 31 games, a ratio of nearly a goal a game. If you haven’t already guessed, Yesil’s main quality is his ability to score goals in a very consistent manner. Because of this, he a superb finisher, and due to his superb finishing ability, his positional awareness seems brilliant, as he is always in the best position to score at the right time. Yesil’s other strengths include his pace and agility, as well as his confidence both on and off the field, but Yesil’s main weakness is his strength on the ball, especially as most central defenders are getting stronger every year, meaning that Yesil must work on his strength but must ensure that his pace is still very quick.
Verdict: Has potential to become a key forward in the first team.
The last forward being covered today is Jack Dunn. Dunn is a regular starter in Steve Cooper’s Under 18s and has recently impressed in Alex Inglethorpe’s Under 21s. Although Dunn is naturally a left sided midfielder, he has adapted to play as a forward for both the Under 21s and Under 18s. He is a prolific scorer in that forward role, especially in the FA Youth Cup, where he is more likely to play in a forward role. The Englishman has scored in every round of the competition apart from the Semi Final stage against Chelsea. He was called up to Alex Inglethorpe’s Under 21s for a match away to Wolves, where Dunn played in a forward role. The game ended 2-1 to the Reds, with Jack Dunn scoring the winning goal to help out his older, more experienced peers. Due to being so young, Dunn has a hunger and a passion to succeed, and this was shown against Wolves, so will be looking to impress Brendan Rodgers in the future. Jack Dunn will have a future at Liverpool as a cup starter, because of his record in cup competitions but will find it hard to make it into the first team squad. Dunn has the right attitude to succeed, and is has even captained the Under 18s, but his main flaw is his aerial presence, which is key as a centre forward
Verdict: Can be a regular Cup starter.
Thanks for taking time to read this blog, and be sure to follow me on Twitter for all things the Academy, with stats, opinions and other blogs thrown in.