By Scott Taylor
Liverpool U18s drew 0-0 with League One side Bradford City at the Academy on Tuesday afternoon. Neil Critchely’s side were preparing for the start of the Under-18 Premier League play-offs. Ideal prepartation was to give his players game time, and this is what happened in the friendly.
Critchley will be without a couple of crucial players such as Adam Phillips and Corey Whelan, who both announced on social media that they were out for the rest of the season after picking up lengthy injuries.
The Reds dominated in the opening half of the game, creating many opportunities without converting them. The dangerous Liverpool players were Callum Nicholas and Jack Watts, who caused the Bantams defence all sorts of problems with their link-up play.
Despite losing Phillips and Whelan, Critchley still had a lot of positives to take from the friendly. Firstly, midfielder Matthew Virtue and defender David Roberts made their comebacks from long-term injuries, while Under-16 player Joshua Agbozo got a taste of what it is like to play for the Under-18s.
After the game, the Liverpool manager told Liverpoolfc.com that it wasn’t about getting a result, but more about improving players’ match fitness. He said: “It was a classic 0-0 and the draw was probably a fair result in the end. There were few chances. It was more of a match for me to give players who are coming back from injuries some game-time and hand players the opportunity to get out there.”
Ahead of next weekend’s came at Sunderland, he mentioned how he expects the game to be a tight affair between the sides, which should provide some entertainment on Saturday morning.
“We’ve got Sunderland away on Saturday as we begin our batch of play-off games. We played them a couple of weeks ago and it was a very close game. We won 1-0 at home. But then they won the away game 2-1 earlier on in the season, so it was a case of two close-fought games and we’ll expect nothing different on Saturday.”
Liverpool XI: Jackson, Sheron, Waldron, Brewitt, Polgar, Hart, Dobie, Maxwell, Ejaria, Watts, Nicholas.