By Scott Taylor

Neil Critchley’s Liverpool U18s will be looking to make it 13 games unbeaten when they host league leaders Everton in the mini-derby at the Kirkby Academy on Saturday.

The Reds are expected to make changes for the game, as Adam Phillips, Bobby Adekanye and Yan Dhanda were all absent for the 3-2 win over Derby last Saturday. Dhanda and Phillips are set to return to the matchday squad, with Dhanda a key member of their attack with six goals in all competitions this season. Phillips will also be a crucial addition, as the youngster, who spent the 2014-15 pre-season with the first team, scored a late equaliser in the reverse fixture at Finch Farm earlier in the season. The centre-back pairing of Mich’el Parker and Conor Masterson is set to continue, with Corey Whelan on Under-21s duty for another Merseyside derby against the Toffees on Sunday.

With Jake Brimmer and Paulo Alves also missing for the victory over Derby on Saturday, Critchley has plenty of options to pick from in a bid for their 10th Premier League win of the season.

Liverpool’s great run of form, which have seen them win eight and draw four games since their 4-0 defeat to Blackburn in August, have seen them lodge a title challenge. Critchley’s side currently sit third in the U18s Premier League, just four points behind leaders Everton. A win on Saturday will see them move above second-placed Manchester City, and only a point behind their Merseyside rivals.

Everton come to Kirkby with the most goals scored in the division, finding the net 38 times in their opening 15 games. However, they come up against an organised Liverpool defence who have conceded just 19 goals, the second best in the Premier League. It all sets up an intriguing encounter, especially after the visitors lost 8-0 to Wolves last weekend, where Liverpool goalkeeper Owen Wheeler deputised for Wolves.

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