By Scott Taylor
Ryan McLaughlin is the next Academy youngster to be reviewed in another week of ‘Who is…’. The fullback joined Liverpool as a youngster in the summer of 2011, signing on an inital three-year-deal.
In his first season with the club, he was a regular in the Under 18s side, making a total of 14 appearances in the 2011-12 season. He only needed half a season in the Under 18s for the coaching staff to realise his potential. In his debut season, he made a further 12 apperances with the Under 21s.
After his debut season, he was rewarded by being issued the squad number 43. It was also in that summer where he emerged into the first team. McLaughlin was part of Brendan Rodgers’ squad to the USA, where he made his debut in an exhibition match between Liverpool and AS Roma on 25 July. The defender played 45 minutes in that fixture, which turned out to be a goalless draw.
The defender then played most of that 2012/13 season in the development side, making a total of 21 appearances for Alex Inglethorpe’s men, and was rewarded with a new contract at the end of the season, keeping him with the Reds for a further three seasons.
McLaughlin is established at international level as well. The right-back played for Northern Ireland Under 16, Under 17, Under 18 and Under 21 level. His major breakthrough with the national side came in the summer of 2012. The 20 year old was called up to Michael O’Neill’s side for an international friendly against Finland, but was unfortunately ruled out due to an injury. He was given another bite at the cherry in May 2014, and put his injury woes behind him to make his debut. The defender came on as a substitute in their friendly with South American side Uruguay.
With competition in the form of Glen Johnson, Andre Wisdom, Jose Enrique, Jack Robinson and Brad Smith, McLaughlin was loaned out to Championship side Barnsley in January 2014 and spend four months in Yorkshire. Injury again hampered his time in South Yorkshire, where he made only nine appearances for the then Championship side, before returning to Melwood.
He has struggled for game time this season though due to injuries, only making three Under 21 Premier League appearances, finding the net on one occasion. In his 30 appearances for the Reds’ Under 21 side, McLaughlin has found the net three times, and assisting three goals as well.
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