Today, I’ll be previewing Liverpool’s FA Youth Cup 4th round tie against Aston Villa at Langtree Park. The game that is also live on LFCTV, so fans who have not seen any Under 18s action this season will have the chance to do so.

On Wednesday, Premier League sides Aston Villa and Liverpool face each other in the 4th round of the FA Youth Cup. Liverpool progressed after a nail-biting 5-3 win on penalties against Blackpool whilst Aston Villa edged out a 7 goal thriller against Plymouth to book a tie with the Reds.

It won’t get any easier for both teams after their narrow wins in the previous round as both sides are very tough opposition on the day. After all, Aston Villa U19s were the last side to win the NextGen Series before it was temporarily cancelled and that accomplishment itself goes to show how strong Villa’s academy players can be, as they beat a string of European teams that included Sporting Lisbon and Chelsea.

However, Neil Critchley’s Liverpool Under 18s should go into the game full of confidence. The young Reds have looked to have found some form after a mixed start under the former Crewe man. Also, the Reds are blessed with young talent as this Under 18s squad is arguably the most exciting squad that Liverpool have had, and includes the likes of the Reds’ youngest ever player Jerome Sinclair and Wales international Harry Wilson. I fully expect Critchley to field a strong side as they look to go one better than last season and try and win the FA Youth Cup, just like they did in 2007.

Critchley will also have Under 21 players Jordan Rossiter, Cameron Brannagan and Jordon Ibe at his disposal. These trio of midfielders will bring a wealth of experience down with them as they all have been involved at first team level as well as Under 21 level, and when facing a tough side in the form of Aston Villa it will certainly help.

With Ryan McLaughlin loaned out to Championship strugglers last week, this tie will be a good chance for right back Connor Randall to impress, as he will look to build on just 1 appearance for Alex Inglethorpe’s Under 21s this season. Another defender who also has Under 21 experience is Lloyd Jones who has enjoyed captaining the side this season and led them to a top 4 position in the Under 21 Premier League. Jones looked extremely comfortable in blustery conditions in the last round and will be a perfect mentor for his partner at centre-back, Jordan Williams.

What is most exciting about the Under 18s squad is the midfield talent in has. With Rossiter and Brannagan in the squad means that some of the Under 18 regulars will have to make way. Even still, the back ups are phenomenally talented. The bench will most likely consist of players such as Adam Phillips, who is technically an Under 16 player but has got into the side on merit and is also an England Under 16 international. Also on the bench may be a solid defensive midfielder in Nathan Burke, who captained the Under 18s when they toured America, in which he scored twice to take his goal tally to 4 goals this season. Additionally, Critchley has a playmaker in Sheyi Ojo in the squad, who came off the bench to set up a penalty finish in the last time and has been on scintillating form ever since, scoring  in consecutive games. Last but not least, Liverpool still have Pedro Chirivella a summer signing from Valencia, but he is currently out injured and the Spain Under 17 international works well with Rossiter in a deeper role in midfield.

The one negative for Crtichley is that Jerome Sinclair is out with a knee problem so it is likely that Sergi Canos will feature and this presents a chance for players such as Daniel Trickett-Smith to feature.

So, as before mentioned Critchley will field a strong side but shouldn’t take Aston Villa for granted as even the FA Youth Cup produces magical moments, evident in the each of the teams last matches.

The following team is my prediction of the team the Under 18s manager will play.

Crump; Randall, Jones, Williams, Maguire; Rossiter, Brannagan ; Wilson, Ojo, Kent; Canos.

Thanks for taking the time to read this FA Youth Cup Preview on Vavel, and for more on Liverpool’s Under 21s and Under 18s then simply keep an eye out on the blog http://www.thenextgenkopites.wordpress.com. Finally, for more Academy updates, then be sure to follow me on Twitter (@ScottTaylorUK).

Until Next Time Reds…

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